Sugar alcohols, also known as polyols, are ingredients used as sweetners and bulking agents. They occur naturally in foods and can be found in plant products such as fruits and berries. Sugar alcohols are a popular sugar replacement that have fewer calories than regular sugar. This is because they are converted to glucose more slowly, require little or no insulin to be metabolized and don't cause sudden increases in blood sugar. Examples of sugar alcohols are mannitol, sorbitol, xylitol, lactitol, isomalt, maltitol and hydrogenated starch hydrolysates (HSH). Sugar alcohols are often found in foods labeled 'sugar-free' as well as throat lozenges, toothpaste and mouthwash. They are present in dental care products because sugar alcohols do not cause tooth decay like sugar does.
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Cautions Sugar alcohols may cause bloating and diarrhea, especially when consumed in large doses.