What Is Sorbitol?

3D-model of Sorbitol (src)

Sorbitol is a sugar alcohol.

It’s often used as a substitute to other sugars, like cane and corn sugars.

Sorbitol has a very low glycemic response and fewer calories than sucrose.

It’s about half as sweet as sucrose.

Sorbitol is a sugar alcohol with a sweet taste which the human body metabolizes slowly.

Table of Contents

Sorbitol Is A Common Substitute

Sorbitol is a sugar alcohol commonly used as a substitute for cane and corn sugars.

It is a sweet, non-fermentable sugar alcohol that is naturally found in fruit, like apples, cherries, and apricots, honey, and licorice.

Natural sorbitol is not to be confused with the artificial sweetener sorbitol, which is also known as polyethylene glycol.

Sorbitol as artificial sweetener

Sorbitol can be produced synthetically from glucose. (source )

Sorbitol has about half the sweetness of sucrose. The sweetness profile of sorbitol compares more to glucose than to sucrose.

Sorbitol has been used for many years as a sweetener in pharmaceuticals and food products, and is now a common ingredient in diabetic-friendly foods and medicines.

Sorbitol In Foods

In foods, sorbitol is mostly used in sweet food categories such as cakes, pastries, confectionery, chewing gum, and snack bars.

It is also used to sweeten medications. (source )

Sorbitol is stable when heated. So it is often used in baking.

For instance, is there is browning when using sorbitol as a sweetener. (source )

Sorbitol is also used in the food industry as a thickening agent, and as an emulsifier.

Low GI

Sorbitol has a very low glycemic response and fewer calories than sucrose.

That is why it is commonly used as a sugar replacement for people with diabetes. (source )

As it is not metabolized, sorbitol is not broken down by the body and remains in the body for a long time. It has been used for the treatment of diabetes, because it is known to reduce blood glucose levels.

Side-Effects Of Sorbitol

Sorbitol has diuretic, laxative, and cathartic properties.

It was formerly used as a diuretic and may still be used as a laxative and in irrigating solutions for some surgical procedures. (source )

Sorbitol can cause diarrhea and IBS-like symptoms with as little as 10g per day. (source )

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Sara Niemelä

co-founder Care Omnia, Head Content Creator

Author Image of Sara Niemelä

Nutrition is my passion. I've spent thousands upon thousands of hours reading, analyzing, categorizing and comparing research studies.

I’m a wife and a mother of three. I enjoy the outdoors, cooking, and spending time with my family.