The KETO diet. You might just be living under a rock if you haven’t heard of it yet. This high-fat, low carb and moderate protein diet has been sweeping the United States in such a way that it has begun to evolve past a dietary trend and into a potentially permanent lifestyle choice for many Americans. With that being said, there are certain products that have begun emerge that have begun to make a name for themselves as well. Specifically sugar alcohols. If you haven’t heard of sugar alcohols yet, they are neither a sugar nor an alcohol but calorie-free sweeteners that have begun popular replacements for conventional sugars in everything from a teaspoon of granulated table sugar in your coffee to sweeteners for sauces, condiments and baked goods.
What is a Sugar Alcohol?
Technically, these sweet compounds are carbohydrates that are indigestible by the human body and act like a fiber when ingested. These sugar-free sugar substitutes have no real impact upon blood sugar, which is why they have become popularly associated with the KETO diet. Because this particular lifestyle requires a very low intake of carbohydrates, the use of conventional table sugar is not recommended and these low carb sugar alcohols are often called upon to sweeten food products without increasing blood sugar levels, allowing the person who is following the “KETO diet” to remain in ketosis.
Types of Sugar Alcohols
Jumping right into it, according to the fact sheet provided by the International Food Information Council Foundation, there are 7 main sugar alcohols that are in circulation within food products and even household items today. These include:
1. Sorbitol- Sugar-free candies, chewing gums, frozen desserts and baked goods
2. Xylitol – Chewing gum, gum drops and hard candy, pharmaceuticals and oral health products, such as throat lozenges, cough syrups, children’s chewable multivitamins, toothpastes and mouthwashes; used in foods for special dietary purposes
3. Maltitol- Hard candies, chewing gum, chocolates, baked goods and ice cream
4. Isomalt – Candies, toffee, lollipops, fudge, wafers, cough drops, throat lozenges
5. Lactitol – Chocolate, some baked goods (cookies and cakes), hard and soft candy and frozen dairy desserts
6. Mannitol – Dusting powder for sugar-free gum, ingredient in chocolate-flavored coating agents for ice cream and confections
7. Erythritol- Bulk sweetener in low calorie foods
8. Hydrogenated Starch Hydrolysates (HSH) – Bulk sweetener in low calorie foods, provide sweetness, texture and bulk to a variety of sugarless products
Who Should Consume Sugar Alcohols?
Before the Keto Diet became a thing, these sugar-free, low-calorie sweeteners were very popular among dentists promoting dental health through the reduced consumption of table sugar but recommending hard candies and other sweet treats in place of conventional food products full of corn syrup and other bulk sweeteners that were harmful to the enamel and often caused cavities.
Sugar-free sweeteners are also a commonplace item among people suffering from blood-glucose conditions such as diabetes and other insulin related issues. The American Diabetes Association recommends foods that are low on the glycemic index for those suffering from Diabetes. Food products sweetened with sugar alcohols tend to not have as high of an impact on blood sugar levels and are normally considered safe for consumption for those within the Diabetic community.
As the Keto Diet and other lifestyles continue to change the way we look at sugar consumption, it will come as not surprise that food products that include sugar alcohols will continue to be on a rise to support the overwhelming demand.
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