Best Sugar Alcohols: Are They Really Good?
Sugar alcohols have been a convenient alternative to sugar for years. They not only look like but also taste like sugar, and have fewer calories as well as lesser adverse health effects. Sugar alcohols have been found to cause health improvements. In this article, we expound on the best sugar alcohols and what exactly they are as well as their sweetness compared to normal sugar.
What Are Sugar Alcohols?
Sugar alcohols are a group of sweet carbohydrates that naturally occur or are processed from other sugars. They are in some measure resistant to digestion and act like dietary fiber. These are a type of FODMAP or carbohydrates found in foods such as beans and wheat and may cause bloating and stomach upset in some people.
Like the name suggests sugar alcohols are hybrids of sugar and alcohol molecules. However, they contain no ethanol or any elements that makes you drunk. Sugar alcohols are best for individuals who misuse alcohol.
Most sugar alcohols naturally occur in vegetables and fruits, but some are processed from sugars like cornstarch glucose. Since sugar alcohols and sugar have the same chemical structure, they trigger the sweet taste receptors on the tongue. Different from low-calorie and artificial sweeteners, sugar alcohols contain calories, slightly lesser than calories in plain sugar.
As mentioned earlier, a wide range of sugar alcohol types occurs naturally. Nevertheless, they can be manufactured to be used in food as well as medicinal products.
The following are some of the best and commonly used sugar alcohols, sources, and sweetness as compared to regular sugar:
Sorbitol feels smooth at tastes fresh. This sugar alcohol is a common component in sugar-free drinks and foods like soft candy and jelly spreads. It has a lesser effect on insulin and blood sugar but may lead to digestive distress.
This alcohol sugar naturally occurs in some fruits. It can also be manufactured from dextrose, which is present in cornstarch for use in food products. The sweetness level of sorbitol compared to regular sugar is 60 percent.
Mannitol is naturally present in many plants, such as strawberries, onions, and mushrooms. Additionally, it can be made using fructose from cornstarch. Mannitol sugar alcohol is approximately 60 percent as sweet as the regular sugar.
Maltitol is manufactured from maltose found in the cornstarch. Maltitol is made from sugar maltose, and it feels and tastes the same as the regular sugar. This sugar alcohol is approximately 90 percent as sweet as regular sugar and contains nearly half the calories.
Although products containing Maltitol are said to be sugar-free, the body absorbs it leading to blood sugar spikes
Hydrogenated starch hydrolysates
The hydrogenated starch hydrolysates are products of starch, but cornstarch is also used most of the time. The sweetness of this sugar alcohol depends on the makeup, but it ranges between 20 and 50 percent as compared to regular sugar.
Like Maltitol, erythritol is also a product of cornstarch. This sugar alcohol is nevertheless unique since its manufacturing process is all about fermentation. It has a sweetness level of 70 percent as compared to regular sugar.
The most researched and commonest sugar alcohol xylitol. This sugar alcohol is a common component in the sugar-free mints, chewing gums as well as oral care products such as toothpaste.
This sugar alcohol can be made from a handful of different materials such as corn cobs, birch wood and sugar cane stalks that are leftover. Xylitol is nearly as sweet as the regular sugar, and it also comes with a cooling or minty taste.
Other sugar alcohols
Isomalt is a product of sugar; however, it tastes about 55 percent as sweet as sugar. Lactitol, which is made from whey, and tastes about 35 percent as sweet as the usual sugar.
The Benefit Of Sugar Alcohols
Sugar Alcohols helps to improve dental health. One of the common secondary effects of excessive consumption of sugar is tooth decay. Sugar feeds leave bacteria in your mouth that can multiply and discharge acids that corrode protective enamel of the teeth.
On the other hand, sugar alcohols such as sorbitol, xylitol, and erythritol protect you against tooth decay. This is why they are commonly used in many kinds of toothpaste as well as chewing gums. Xylitol sugar alcohol renowned for its dental health beneficial effects. When the harmful bacteria in the mouth feeds on xylitol, they cannot metabolize it, so it clogs their metabolic machinery, thus hindering their growth.