What Are Sugar Alcohols And Are They Bad For You?

As defined by experts at Verywell Fit, "Sugar alcohols are a category of sweet carbohydrates known as polyols." Naturally found in certain fruits and vegetables, they often help to satisfy our sweet tooth by being used to sweeten treats such as candy or gum. Despite the name, sugar alcohols don't actually contain any alcohol, or ethanol. While they are sometimes extracted from plants, the sugar alcohols found in most foods are chemically produced and are often used as artificial sweeteners.

There are several different types of sugars alcohols. For example, erythritol, which naturally occurs in fruits like grapes and pears, is used to sweeten low-carb and low sugar foods. Maltitol, on the other hand, is manufactured from corn starch and is commonly used in candy and desserts. Xylitol is another type of sugar alcohol. Xylitol is found in plums and strawberries and is often used as an ingredient in mouthwash and mints.

Are sugar alcohols healthy?

Sugar alcohols are safe to consume and have been linked to a number of potential health benefits. Even better, they don't show to have any significant impact on blood sugar levels (via Healthline). This is due to the fact that sugar alcohols are not fully absorbed by the body. Therefore, this is particularly beneficial to people who have been diagnosed with diabetes. Sugar alcohols are also helpful for people looking to reduce their sugar intake. Sugar alcohols can also improve dental health. That's because they don't promote cavities or tooth decay like regular sugar. In fact, some sugar alcohols are actually used in dental products, like toothpaste.

Although sugar alcohols can often improve your health, they do have one major downside. Sugar alcohols can cause gastrointestinal discomfort and digestive problems. Since sugar alcohols cannot be completely digested, if consumed in excess, they can cause significant irritation in the form of gas or bloating. People with irritable bowel syndrome may want to steer clear of foods and products containing sugar alcohols. The worst offenders tend to be sorbitol and maltitol.