Ask the Diabetes Educator Archive

3/24/03

Q:

I've notice many of the sugar free products actually have sugar alcohol. Is there anyway to quantify the benefit of sugar alcohol over sugar replacements? I'm wondering if the sugar alcohol is a gimmick for the producers to allow them to say sugar free. Also, why do I not see more products with Splenda. This product taste the most like sugar, and from what I read is one of the best substitutes.

A:

Sugar alcohols, processed differently than glucose by the body, do not elevate sugars as rapidly. Mannitol and sorbitol are the two we most frequently see in products, like chewing gum. The down side is that they can cause diarrhea in quantity. Splenda is a "newer" player on the field of sweeteners. I am not abreast of the "politics" of this product, but would suspect in time you will see more of it in products in the marketplace. Sugar-free/low-calorie foods are one of the food industries bigger revenue sources; always stay tuned for something "better" to show up.

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