"The groundwork of all happiness is health." - Leigh Hunt

How healthy is sugar alcohol?

If you are attempting to reduce. Added sugar — and you need to, because added sugar increases the risks of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease — you could be tempted by products advertised as low-sugar, no-sugar, or sugar-free.

Are low-calorie or no-calorie sweeteners healthier than natural sugar?

Also generally known as artificial sweeteners or sugar substitutes, list of Low calorie and no calorie sweets You can look on product nutrition labels for ingredients like acesulfame-K, saccharin, sucralose, neotame, and advantame. They have a better intensity of sweetness per gram than natural sugar.

Research on them up to now has been mixed, although some observational studies have shown that low-calorie sweetened beverages are related to Increased risk of diabetes and weight gain.

What exactly are sugar alcohols and how are you going to spot them?

According to Dr. Ho, sugar alcohols can have essentially the most misleading name, since they're neither sugar nor alcohol. “They are a type of carbohydrate derived from fruits and vegetables, although most commercial sugar alcohols are artificially produced.”

You can normally see many Chinese alcohols in ingredient lists with “-ol” at the top of their names. Examples include sorbitol, xylitol, lactitol, mannitol, erythritol, and maltitol.

Are sugar alcohols healthier than other sugar substitutes or natural sugars?

Here's a have a look at the professionals and cons.

The opposite of sugar alcohols

Sugar alcohols occupy the sweet spot between natural sugar and low-calorie sweeteners. They aren't as sweet as dessert and don't add lots of extra calories like sugar.

“Sugar alcohols are about 40% to 80% sweeter than natural sugar, while artificial sweeteners like aspartame are about 200 times sweeter,” says Dr. Hu. “And they contain 25% to 75% fewer calories per gram than sugar.”

Another good thing about sugar alcohols is that they break down slowly within the gut. Therefore, your body only absorbs a part of their total carbohydrates. “It prevents your blood sugar and insulin levels from spiking like they do with sugar,” says Dr. Ho. “This makes them a useful sugar substitute for diabetics.”

The downside of sugar alcohols

The fundamental drawback of sugar alcohols is that this: When taken in large amounts, they may cause gastrointestinal (GI) problems, akin to stomach pain, diarrhea, or loose stools.

Because sugar alcohols are digested slowly, they've more time to feed the bacteria within the gut, which cause fermentation and produce excess gas. Their slow digestion may draw excess water into the colon and cause a laxative effect.

People's tolerance for sugar alcohols is determined by many aspects, including body weight, health status, and the quantity and forms of sugar alcohols consumed. “Individual differences in digestion and metabolism, composition of the gut microbiome, and dietary habits can also make a difference,” says Dr. Hu. “For these reasons, we recommend adding sugar alcohols to your diet slowly and seeing how your body responds.”

For individuals who experience GI symptoms from sugar alcohols, reducing the quantity of foods and drinks which are often made with them can fix the issue, says Dr. Hu. “Sugar alcohols are usually found in sugar-free or low-carb products, so pay attention to food labels,” he says. “Because different sugar alcohols can have different effects, it may be useful to identify specific types of sugar alcohols that cause GI side effects.”

Are there health risks from sugar alcohols?

The potential long-term health risks of sugar alcohols are still being explored. Oh 2023 observational study A link was found between using erythritol as an added sweetener and heart problems events, akin to stroke and heart attack, in individuals with heart disease or who had risk aspects akin to diabetes and hypertension. However, these findings haven't been confirmed in subsequent studies.

“Sugar alcohols offer a healthier alternative to sugar because they are lower in calories and have a lower glycemic response, which affects blood sugar levels,” says Dr. Ho. “But they also have potential drawbacks, especially for those with sensitive digestive systems, so it's best to consume them in moderation as part of an overall healthy eating pattern.”