Sugar alcohols, also called polyols, are a type of carbohydrate.
One of the main reasons sugar alcohols are used in foods created for people with diabetes is that they are slowly absorbed into the body and only partially metabolized. This incomplete absorption doesn’t usually raise blood sugar as much as a typical carbohydrate.
Just because a food contains sugar alcohols, doesn’t mean it’s a free food. They are sometimes combined with other ingredients in a product that may raise blood sugar. So it’s important to carefully read the nutrition facts label for the total number of carbohydrates number per serving to ensure that you are staying within your designed meal plan.
Some sugar alcohols are derived naturally from plants (sorbitol from corn syrup and mannitol from seaweed), but they are mostly manufactured from sugars and starches and then processed into a wide variety of foods. In addition to adding sweetness, they add texture and help retain moisture.
You can determine if a food has one or more sugar alcohols by checking the product’s ingredients on the packaging food label. Sugar alcohols usually end in “-ol.” The most common sugar alcohols include:
Hydrogenated starch hydrolysates
Most sugar alcohols are less sweet than table sugar (sucrose), but maltitol and xylitol rival sucrose in their degree of sweetness.