When reading labels I notice that some things have “Sugar Alcohol” in them. Can you tell me how this differs from regular sugar or fructose?

Sugar alcohols are carbohydrates and considered a reduced-calorie sweetener. They are typically found in chewing gum, sugar free candies and desserts. Examples include: maltitol, sorbitol, xylitol, mannitol, and isomalt. Sugar alcohols have a chemical structure that resembles both a sugar and an alcohol—but it does not contain alcohol and people cannot get “intoxicated” from eating them. Sugar alcohols are used for sweetening purposes and typically contain about half of the calories and carbohydrates of sugar. They are not completely absorbed by the body, therefore they do not impact blood sugar levels as much as regular sugar. To figure out the amount of carbohydrate you should count for a food containing sugar alcohol, follow these simple steps suggested by the American Diabetes Association. “Subtract half of the sugar alcohol grams from the total carbohydrate, and then count the remaining grams”. For example, if a serving of a product contains 20 grams of total carbohydrate, and 8 grams of a sugar alcohol, subtract 4g from 20g for a remaining total of 16 grams of carbohydrate.

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