Sugar Alcohol, Common, Uses, Types and Sources, Sorbitol, Questions (For CBSE, ICSE, IAS, NET, NRA 2022)

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What is Sugar Alcohol?

  • Sugar alcohols are defined as the sum of saccharide derivative in which a hydroxyl group replaces a ketone or aldehyde group.
  • Sugar is a crystalline substance generally called as sweet. It is a soluble carbohydrate that is used in most foods. It is comprised of oxygen, hydrogen, and carbon.
  • One of the basic forms of sugars is monosaccharides that contain fructose, galactose, and glucose. Sugar as a food source is used as disaccharide namely lactose and maltose. Sugar alcohol is derived from a sugar is an organic compound that comprehends a class of polyols. It is neither an alcohol or sugar as the name suggests. They may occur naturally or they are produced in industries.
  • Sugar alcohols are the organic compounds which are derived from a sugar that comprehends a class of polyols. It is neither an alcohol or sugar as the name suggests. Sugar alcohols are water-soluble, white solids which occur naturally and also can be produced in industries. These water-soluble solids are used in various food products commercially. They are used in place of table sugar, used as sweetener and thickeners. Xylitol is a popular sugar alcohol which possesses similar properties as that of sucrose in terms of its appearance and sweetness.

Common Sugar Alcohols

Sugar alcohols derived from disaccharides but both disaccharides and monosaccharides can form sugar alcohols. Some common sugar alcohols are listed below:

  • Xylitol
  • Ribitol
  • Glycerol
  • Erythritol
  • Threitol
  • Volemitol
  • Isomalt
  • Maltitol
  • Lactitol
  • Sorbitol
  • Galactitol
  • Fucitol
  • Iditol
  • Inositol

Uses of Sugar Alcohol

  • Sugar alcohols are used in the food industry as sweeteners and thickeners. In commercial foodstuffs, it is commonly used in place of table sugar.
  • One of the biggest problems faced for consuming an excess amount of sugar is tooth decay. But consumption of sugar alcohol does not cause tooth decay. For instance, chewing gums manufacturers use Xylitol in their products. It is used to constrain oral bacteria to which prevent tooth decay.
  • Sugar alcohols lower the number of calories present in the food products. It also helps in reducing weight.
  • It can also be used to regulate glycemic index, by reducing carbohydrates rate.

Types and Sources

  • A variety of sugar alcohol types exist in nature. Sugar alcohols can also be manufactured for use in food and pharmaceutical products.
  • Below is a list of commonly used sugar alcohols, their sources, and their sweetness in comparison to regular sugar.


  • Sorbitol is found naturally in some fruits. When used to make food products, it is typically manufactured from dextrose that is derived from cornstarch.
  • Sorbitol tastes approximately 60 percent as sweet as regular sugar.


  • Mannitol is naturally found in a variety of plants, including strawberries, mushrooms, and onions. It can be made using fructose from cornstarch.
  • Mannitol is also approximately 60 percent as sweet as regular sugar.


  • Maltitol is made using maltose from cornstarch.
  • It tastes around 75 percent as sweet as regular sugar.
  • Hydrogenated starch hydrolysates
  • Hydrogenated starch hydrolysates are made from starch, with cornstarch being used most often.
  • Their sweetness depends on their makeup, but the range is about 20 to 50 percent that of regular sugar.


  • Erythritol is also produced from cornstarch, but it is unique because the manufacturing process involves fermentation.
  • It tastes about 70 percent as sweet as regular sugar.


  • Xylitol can be made from a few different materials, including birch wood, corncobs, and leftover sugar cane stalks.
  • It is just about as sweet as regular sugar, and also has a cooling, minty taste.


Isomalt is made from sugar but only tastes around 55 percent as sweet.


Lactitol is made from whey and tastes about 35 percent as sweet as regular sugar.


Do Sugar Alcohols Count as Sugar?


Unlike artificial sweeteners, sugar alcohols are a kind of carbohydrates and cane sugar, but not as much as sugar, increase blood sugar levels. In your overall meal plan you will need to count the carbohydrates and calories from sugar alcohols.

What Does Sugar Alcohol Mean?


  • Sugar alcohols are additives that are also known as polyols and used as sweeteners and bulking agents.
  • They occur naturally in food and come from vegetable items like fruits and berries. These contain less calories (about half to one-third less calories) than normal sugar, as a sugar substitute.

What Foods Have Sugar Alcohol in Them?


Mannitol occurs naturally in pineapples, olives, asparagus, cabbage, and sweet potatoes. Sorbitol is found in fruits and vegetables, naturally. Xylitol is also known as “wood sugar” and naturally occurs in wheat, corn, fruit, vegetables, cereals, mushrooms and some cereals.

Is Sorbitol the Same as Sugar Alcohol?


  • A sugar alcohol is a sugar which is attached to an alcohol group. They include erythritol, lactitol, maltitol, mannitol, sorbitol, and xylitol — their “ol” suffix defines them.
  • Because of their poor absorption they can cause gas or diarrhea if too many sugar alcohols are ingested.

Is Alcohol a Sugar Alcohol?


  • Sugar alcohols are neither alcohols nor sugars. hey are carbohydrates with a chemical structure that partially resembles sugar and partially resembles alcohol because, as alcoholic drinks, they do not contain ethanol.
  • Most alcohols in sugar are less sweet than sucrose; maltitol and xylitol are almost as sweet as saccharosis.

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