Sugar alcohol occurs naturally in plants. The simplest form of sugar alcohol is known as ethylene glycol, a sweet yet highly toxic chemical that is commonly found in anti-freeze. Unlike the name suggests, sugar alcohol does not have any of the properties of real alcoholic drinks.
It is a good idea to substitute sugar alcohol for regular sugar to help you lose weight. You are more likely to lose weight if you know what you are putting in your body and how you react to it. Sugar alcohol has fewer calories per gram than regular refined sugar and is a good substitute for the sweetness you crave if you are dieting. Compared to regular sugar, sugar alcohol does have calories, but not as many as sugar. So, if you are dieting, you still have to be aware of the fact that you are ingesting carbohydrates from sugar alcohol. Read the food labels carefully so that you know how many carbs you are consuming.
Adding sugar alcohol to the diet is an excellent idea for someone who has diabetes, especially those with type I diabetes. It converts to glucose more slowly and does not cause the sudden spikes in blood sugar, which makes it a favorite sugar substitute for people with this disease.
Sugar Alcohol vs. Artificial Sweeteners
The primary difference between sugar alcohol and artificial sweeteners is the calorie amount. The artificial sweetener has 0 calories, and the sugar alcohol has 2.6 per gram, so there will be some effect on the blood sugar, just not as much.
Forms of Sugar Alcohol
Sugar alcohol comes in many different forms. The forms of sugar alcohol include: sorbitol, xylitol, sorbitol, lactitol, isomalt and maltitol. These sugar alchol forms range from 30 to 75% of the sweetness of sugar.
Where Are Sugar Alcohols Found?
Sugar alcohols can be found in many different foods in the different forms listed above. For example, mannitol can be found in potatoes, carrots, pineapple, olives and asparagus. Sorbitol is found naturally in many fruits and vegetables. Xylitol can be found in cereals and mushrooms and is used in the manufacture of chewing gum. Lacitol is usually found in sugar-free products such as ice cream, confections, chocolate and baked goods. Isomalt is used primarily in the creation of hard candy, cough drops and toffee. Maltitol gives a creamy texture to some foods, such as ice cream and other confections.
Word of Caution
Although it is a very good idea to add sugar alcohol to your diet, there are certain things you should know or expect. It can ferment in the intestines, which could lead to bloating, gas and diarrhea. A good substitute for sugar and a high source of sugar alcohol is adding fresh fruits and berries to your diet. These contain 1/2 to 1/3 less calories in actuality, which is why is it a good choice for diabetics. So, yes, it is a good idea to add sugar alcohol to your diet if you do so in moderation, and if you are using it as a substitute for sugar, and not in combination with it.