How to Count for Sugar Alcohols

What are Sugar Alcohols?

Sugar alcohols are a type of sweet carbohydrates. They look and taste like sugar, but have fewer calories and fewer negative health effects. 

Despite the “alcohol” in the name, sugar alcohols do not contain ethanol. 

Sugar Alcohols and Blood Glucose

Because sugar alcohols are hard for the body to digest, the effect on blood glucose levels is less than standard sugar. 

Sugar alcohols may be found in products that are labeled “sugar-free” or “no sugar added.” This doesn’t mean that they are carbohydrate free. They will still affect your blood glucose levels. 

Examples of sugar alcohols

These are the names you should look for on ingredients lists:

  • Sorbitol
  • Maltitol
  • Maltitol Syrup
  • Mannitol
  • Isomalt
  • Hydrogenated Starch Hydrolysates (HSH)
  • Lactitol
  • Xylitol
  • Erythritol

How to Count for Sugar Alcohols

When counting carbohydrates for products made with sugar alcohols, subtract half of the grams of sugar alcohol listed on the food label from the total grams of carbohydrate. 

Erythritol is a type of sugar alcohol that the body cannot digest into glucose at all. To calculate the net carbs of a food containing erythritol, subtract the total amount from the total amount of carbs listed on the nutrition label.

Be aware that eating too many sugar alcohols may cause digestive complaints like gas, cramping and diarrhea.

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