What Are Sugar Alcohols?

Sugar alcohols, also known as polyols, are carbohydrates that chemically have the characteristics of both sugars and alcohols.

Sugar alcohols are found naturally in small amounts in a variety of fruits and vegetables. It’s not the same type of alcohol found in alcoholic beverages.

On the nutrition facts label, the manufacturer may list the amount of sugar alcohols there are in a product, but it’s voluntary.

Studies have shown 10 to 15 grams a day of sugar alcohols are safe.

Sugar Alcohols Are Used As Sweeteners

Sugar alcohols are natural monosaccharides, such as xylitol, and sorbitol, among many others.

They are widely used as sweeteners.

Sugar alcohols are primary photosynthetic products that accumulate temporarily in leaves during the light period and trans-locate to other plant organs at night. (source )

Production Of Sugar Alcohols

Sugar alcohols can be produced from natural raw materials, such as sucrose derived from sugar canes or sugar beets, or from natural raw materials, such as starch.

While sugar alcohols can be made from natural raw materials, many of the commercially available sugar alcohols, such as xylitol, are produced by chemical synthesis from petrochemical feedstocks.

Petrochemical feedstocks are often derived from fossil fuels, such as oil, natural gas, or coal.

Most sugar alcohols are industrially produced by the catalytic hydrogenation of sugars under high pressure and temperature.

Examples Of Sugar Alcohols

There are seven sugar alcohols approved internationally for use in food products

Where To Find Sugar Alcohols

Sugar alcohols are used in food and beverage products as humectants, for example, in candies, chewing gum, confections, ice cream, and yogurt.

Sugar alcohols are also used in the manufacture of pharmaceutical products. For example, as sweetening agents in dietetic products and as preservatives in food and beverage products.

Other uses of sugar alcohols are in household and personal care products. For example, in shampoos, soaps, and detergents.

Sugar alcohols are even used in the agriculture field. For example, as plant growth regulators, and as herbicides, fungicides, and insecticides.

Benefits Of Sugar Alcohols

Sugar alcohols do not contribute to tooth decay, like regular sugar do.

Sugar alcohols are absorbed at 50% of the rate of sugars.

This means you will get less of an effect on your blood sugar levels as measured by comparing their effect to sucrose using the glycemic index.

Studies have shown 10 to 15 grams a day of sugar alcohols are safe. But sugar alcohols still can give side-effects like gastrointestinal problems.

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Sara Niemelä

co-founder Care Omnia, Head Content Creator

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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.