How do sugar alcohols affect blood sugar?

An overview of sugar alcohols

Xylitol, erythritol, sorbitol and Co are enjoying growing popularity. We also have some products that have been sweetened with sugar alcohols, such as: B. these two: chocolate drops with xylitol or white chocolate sheets with maltitol.
You can now find most sugar alcohols like normal table sugar in crystal form in the supermarket. You can find out more about them in the following lines.

Sugar alcohols - what is it all about?

Most sugar alcohols are obtained from natural substances and chemically modified. For example, wood sugar turns into xylitol and the alcohol from grape sugar turns into sorbitol. You also will be referred to as polypoleand according to the current law on additives fall directly under the category of sweeteners. They used to be considered a separate group and were called sugar substitutes. Accordingly, you will still find some articles with this designation on the Internet.

Fewer calories than table sugar

Sugar alcohols are in contrast to sweeteners not calorie free. your The calorific value is around 2.4 kilocalories per gram. This is significantly lower than that of table sugar with around 4 kilocalories per gram, with the exception of the virtually calorie-free erythritol.

Sweetening power similar in part to table sugar

While z. B. Sweeteners have a significantly higher sweetening power than conventional sugar - depending on the type, 30 to 3,000 times as sweet - the taste and volume of sugar alcohols is very similar. Accordingly, can Sugar alcohols similar to table sugarto process. However, that does not mean that you can replace table sugar 1: 1 with them. Each sugar alcohol has a slightly different sweetness and special properties.

Little impact on blood sugar levels

Their peculiarity lies in the fact that the human body uses sugar alcohols Use almost independently of insulin can. This means that the consumption of products that are sweetened with xylitol and Co instead of sugar has a smaller impact on your blood sugar level. Therefore, diabetics can use sugar alcohols as an alternative to sugar, but still have to take them into account when calculating the calorific value.

Snacking without tooth decay

Sugar alcohols also have an effect not cariogenic - d. H. they do not cause tooth decay. For example, it has been shown that chewing gum which is 100% sweetened with xylitol reduces plaque on teeth and thus lowers the risk of tooth decay in children.

Basically harmless

Basically, sugar alcohols are considered from a health point of view harmless and are not subject to any quantity restrictions in food production. They can only have a flatulence or laxative effect in higher amounts. The reason is: They are not completely absorbed by the small intestine and some of them reach the large intestine unchanged, where they can lead to diarrhea if consumed more.
A corresponding note is required on food labels if the proportion of sugar alcohol is more than 10 percent of the total product.

An overview of sugar alcohols

In the EU so far 8 sugar alcohols authorized. Since they are considered food additives, they are each marked with an E number:

Sorbitol (E 420)

Sorbitol was originally obtained from the fruits of the mountain ash. However, it is also found in many other types of fruit - especially pome fruit. The energy content of sorbitol is 2.4 kilocalories and his Sweetening power is around 40 to 60 percent compared to table sugar. Since sorbitol has the property of binding moisture from the environment, it is also used as a humectant in food production. It protects, for example, chewing gum, toothpaste or praline fillings from drying out.

Xylitol (E 967)

The natural sugar alcohol, also known as birch sugar, is a component of many types of vegetables and fruits. Xylitol can also be found in the bark of certain types of wood.
Wooden rubber (made from hardwood) or other residues (e.g. corn cob remains or straw) are processed into xylitol with heat and pressure. Compared to other sugar alcohols, production is relatively complex - you as the end consumer often notice this in the price. However, xylitol has the advantage of being almost the same sweetness (98 percent) as table sugar possesses and is very similar to it in taste. The calorific value is included 2.4 kilocalories per gram.
In addition, birch sugar binds water and has a cooling effect in the mouth because it removes heat - similar to the effect of menthol.

Isomalt (E 953)

Isomalt is obtained from table sugar in a two-step process. It is about half as sweet as table sugar and has one Energy value of approx. 2 kilocalories per gram.
This sugar alcohol is used in various low-calorie or sugar-free foods. These include B. chewing gum, chocolate, baked goods and ice cream.

Mannitol (E 421)

The mannitol originally comes from the juice of the manna ash. If the juice is dried, it already contains 13 percent mannitol. He also comes z. B. in the sap of larch, in certain marine algae, mushrooms, lichens and olive trees. In powdered form, mannitol has one Sweetening power of approx. 50 to 60 percent compared to table sugar. The powder contains per gram 2.4 kilocalories. Mannitol is used, inter alia. used for tablet production and as a medicinal substance. It plays less of a role in the food industry, as there are much cheaper sugar alcohols available.

Maltitol (E 965)

Maltitol is obtained by hydrogenating maltose (made from corn or wheat starch).
This substance owns 60 to 90 percent of the sweetening power compared to table sugar and delivers in about 2.5 kilocalories per gram.
Maltitol is mainly used in the food industry for low-calorie products and foods for diabetics. You can find it in jams, desserts, mustards, sauces, candies, and chewing gum, for example. This sugar alcohol also attracts moisture and protects food from drying out.

Lactitol (E 966)

This sugar alcohol is made from lactose (milk sugar) through a chemical reaction.
Lactitol has a Sweetness of only 30 to 40 percent compared to table sugar and delivers one Energy content of around 2.4 kilocalories per gram. In contrast to many other sugar alcohols, lactitol does not have any water-binding properties. Thus, the fabric is well suited to keep food dry, such as. B. Baking Soda. Lactitol is also used in low-sugar products such as sauces, mustard, confectionery and ice cream.

Erythritol (E 968)

Erythritol is considered to be the star of the sugar alcohols because it is opposite to other sugar alcohols almost calorie free (a maximum of 0.2 kilocalories per 1 gram) and possesses about 50 to 80 percent of the sweetness of table sugar. The substance has a crystallized form - similar to table sugar - and can be used for cooking as well as baking. From twenty degrees Celsius it dissolves in water. When stirred into fat, the crystallized erythritol cannot be combined directly. For this you have to have dissolved the sugar alcohol beforehand.

Polyglycitol syrup (E 964)

This sugar alcohol is a hydrogenated starch hydrolyzate that cannot be bought in the supermarket. The substance is easily soluble in water and a little less sweet than other sugar alcohols. In low-calorie foods and sugar-free products, it increases the mass, binding capacity and stability.