Sugar alcohols sound like something fun and delicious that’s consumed around holidays, right? They very well may be consumed around holidays, but they are actually available year round and it’s not really something to celebrate. If you haven’t heard of sugar alcohols – they are used as sweeteners in diet foods because they have no caloric value, which also means, no grams of sugar either. Sounds blissful right? Maybe, but maybe not.
So, what are they? Sugar alcohols, such as maltitol, sorbitol, and malitol, are made from hydrogenating sugar from its starch form. For example, hydrogenating maltose creates maltitol. Wait a second, isn’t that how margarine was created – by hydrogenating oils to make it a solid at room temperature? Yes, yes it was! Didn’t that create trans fat which causes heart disease and other health complications? Oh gosh, that makes my stomach turn, and it’s not just because sugar alcohols reach your intestines intact and draw water to attempt to break it down, causing gastrointestinal upsets. Even though currently there are no studies linking the hydrogenation of sugar to cancer or other health effects other than instantaneous bathrooms visits, we all consumed trans fat for a long period of time without knowing the harmful effects of that as well. If it smells like a fish, looks like a fish, and acts like a fish, it’s probably a fish :)
If you really enjoy the zero calorie component of sugar alcohols or artificial sweeteners I suggest switching to stevia which is a naturally sweet herb that has been ground up or put in an extract form. It’s extremely sweet so it’s not a cup-for-cup replacement, but it can be great to attack that sweet tooth. Honey and maple syrup are also excellent nutrient dense artificial sweetener replacements and replacements for white sugar. Let’s look at how some of them can be substituted in baked goods so you can be a healthier you! Pssst. If you scroll a bit lower, there’s a gluten-free recipe there for you!
Created by Sarah Maughan
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