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MedicalNewsToday: Are sugar alcohols good or bad for you?

Sugar alcohols are different from regular sugar in that they are partially absorbed and metabolized by the body, resulting in fewer calories and a lower impact on blood sugar levels. Unlike regular sugar, sugar alcohols do not promote tooth decay. However, some people may experience gastrointestinal symptoms such as bloating, gas, and diarrhea when consuming large amounts of sugar alcohols.

10 Key Takeaways

  1. Alcohol sugars, also known as sugar alcohols, are a type of carbohydrate found in some fruits and vegetables, as well as many processed foods such as sugar-free candies and gum.

  2. Common alcohol sugars include xylitol, sorbitol, and erythritol.

  3. Alcohol sugars are often used as sugar substitutes because they have a similar taste and texture to sugar but are lower in calories and don't cause spikes in blood sugar levels.

  4. Alcohol sugars are not fully absorbed by the body and can pass through the digestive system without being fully metabolized, which can cause gastrointestinal symptoms such as bloating, gas, and diarrhea.

  5. Unlike regular sugar, alcohol sugars do not contribute to tooth decay.

  6. Alcohol sugars have a lower glycemic index than regular sugar, which means they don't cause a rapid spike in blood sugar levels, making them a good option for people with diabetes.

  7. Studies have shown that xylitol can reduce the risk of dental caries and may also have antibacterial properties.

  8. Alcohol sugars can be found in some sugar-free products that are labeled as "diabetic-friendly," but they can still have an impact on blood sugar levels and should be consumed in moderation.

  9. While alcohol sugars are generally considered safe, excessive consumption can lead to gastrointestinal symptoms, and some people may be more sensitive to them than others.

  10. Alcohol sugars are generally recognized as safe by regulatory agencies such as the FDA, but it's still important to read food labels and consume them in moderation as part of a balanced diet.



  2. Livesey G. Health potential of polyols as sugar replacers, with emphasis on low glycaemic properties. Nutr Res Rev. 2003;16(2):163-191. doi:10.1079/NRR200371

  3. Ferrazzano GF, Amato I, Ingenito A, Zarrelli A, Pinto G, Pollio A. Plant polyols in dental caries prevention: a systematic review. Int J Dent. 2016;2016:5976713. doi:10.1155/2016/5976713

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