LOW-DIGESTIBLE SWEETENERS

  • On my quest to discoved all sweeteners containing carbohydrates partially or not digested at all, I found almost 200 products

  • Low-digestible sweeteners have sweet carbohydrates that resist digestion and so, provide 25 - 90% less calories than sugar

  • These products are not calorie free, but by law may be labeled as zero-calorie if providing <5 cal/serving (important note on that here)

  • Being partially or not digested at all, these carbohydrates reach the large intestine intact and offer digestive health benefits

  • Low-digestible carbohydrates include polyols, rare sugars, some soluble fibers (inulin, fructooligosaccharides, isomaltooligosaccharides)

  • All have bulking properties = the ability to add weight and volume to foods, impacting mouthfeel and texture, like regular sugar does

  • Are often less sweet than table sugar, and to compensate for that, they may be blended with high intensity sweeteners

  • They may be extracted (directly isolated) from a plant or be synthetic, produced from sugars such as glucose, sucrose, xylose, fructose

  • Advantages of these carbs: sweet taste, lower in calories, bulking properties, and digestive health benefits - as a fiber or as a prebiotic.

aka Digestion Resistant, Slow-Digestible, Non-Digestible Sweeteners 

How are low-digestible carbohydrates (LDC) different than sugars?

 

  • As opposed to sugars, which are digested (broken down and absorbed in the small intestine), LDC are partially or not digested at all

  • As a consequence, LDC contribute less calories than table sugar and so, are referred to as reduced calorie sweeteners

  • LDC may: (1) be slowly converted into glucose, not causing a sudden increase in blood sugar; or (2) have no effect on blood glucose

  • They are often promoted by their manufacturers or distributors as low "net carbs"  and low glycemic index sweeteners  

  • The portion of LDC that is not digested by gut enzymes, reaches the large intestine intact and is fermented by microbes

  • They provide health benefits such as improved bowel function (fiber) or by stimulating the growth and activity of gut microbes (prebiotic)

  • Adverse effects, consequence of undigested LDC reaching the large intestine, include a variety of digestive issues

  • Gastrointestinal discomfort, bloating, stomach rumble, flatulence, and diarrhea are commonly associated with excessive intake

  • The uncomfortable digestive effects you might feel are similar to that experienced when having too much high-fiber foods (beans) 

  • They are sometimes referred to as FODMAP carbohydrates, an acronym for Fermentable, Oligo-, Di-, Mono-saccharides and Polyols

  • They are not cariogenic, and xylitol is cariostatic; some LDC are referred to as Noncariogenic Carbohydrate Sweeteners by the FDA.

 

There is A LOT to see here.

Scroll down to explore it all or, if you are short on time, make your choice below: 

Erythritol
Erythritol-based Sweeteners. Erythritol is a polyol or sugar alcohol - a type of carbohydrate that, unlike sugar, is not completely digested. It is less sweet than sugar (~70% the sweetness of regular sugar). It is promoted as a natural sweetener as is found in nature but is synthetically produced by fermentation or an electrochemical process. It is considered a zero-calorie sweetener as it provides 0.2 kcal/g.
Erythritol | with Other Sweeteners
Erythritol is often combined with high intensity sweeteners (stevia, monk fruit, sucralose) to compensate for the reduced sweetness. May be blended with other reduced calorie sweeteners (polyols and soluble fibers such as inulin, FOS) to minimize the cooling effect
Xylitol
Xylitol-based Sweeteners. Xylitol is a polyol or sugar alcohol - a type of carbohydrate that, unlike sugar, is digested slowly, having little impact on blood sugar or insulin levels. Xylitol provides about half the calories of regular sugar (sucrose). Xylitol is the sweetest of the polyols and is as sweet as sucrose.
Xylitol | with Other Sweeteners
Xylitol-based Sweeteners. These sweeteners contain xylitol blended with stevia, inulin, erythritol, or sucralose.
Xylitol is a polyol or sugar alcohol - a type of carbohydrate that, unlike sugar, is digested slowly, having little impact on blood sugar or insulin levels. Xylitol provides about half the calories of regular sugar (sucrose). Xylitol is the sweetest of the polyols and is as sweet as sucrose.
Sorbitol | Mannitol | Isomalt
orbitol and mannitol were the first polyols to become available as sweeteners; suited for sugar free recipes, they attracted diabetics
Are found in nature, but the store-bought sorbitol and mannitol are synthetically produced from glucose & fructose, respectively
Soluble Fibers | Inulin, FOS, IMO
Products containing no-digestible sweeteners | Fructooligosacharides (FOS): a carbohydrate with linear chains of (< 9) fructoses.
Inulin (from Jerusalem artichoke, chicory root, or agave): a carbohydrate with long chains of ( > 10) fructoses.
Isomalto-oligosaccharide (IMO): a short-chain carbohydrate, produced from starch.
FOS, inulin & IMO have 1/2 the calories of table sugar and are prebiotics (are minimally digested in the small intestine and stimulate the growth of healthy bacteria)
Rare Sugars | Allulose, Tagatose
Rare sugars, as the name implies, are rare in nature but can be synthetically produced. Examples are allulose (aka D-psicose), D-xylose, and tagatose. They are slightly sweet; typically half as sweet as table sugar. (allulose is 70% as sweet as sugar). Their sweetness profile is very similar to table sugar. Are low in calories. Have low GI. D-xylose is a synthetic sugar produced from coconut shells, corn cobs, and other plants rich in hemicellulose.
Cup-for-Cup
Are tabletop sweeteners that measure spoon-for-spoon (or cup-for-cup) like regular sugar,
and mantain some of sugar's role in baking
but with less calories.

When substituting this sweetener for sugar, consumer must substitute 'equal volume', not 'equal weight', because this sweetener is much lighter than sugar.

Main ingredient are carbohydrates
Show More

Click the Try it button of each sweetener to be linked to Amazon

where you can read reviews, labels, Q&As, and price.

 

ERYTHRITOL

  • Erythritol is found naturally in some foods (fruits, mushrooms, fermented foods), however, due to being available only in tiny amounts ...

  • The store-bought erythritol is a synthetic sweetener produced via fermentation or an electrochemical process

  • 60 to 70% as sweet as table sugar, so expect to add more and pay a much higher price than table sugar to get the same sweetness

  • To compensate for the reduced sweetness, it is often combined with high intensity sweeteners (stevia, monk fruit, sucralose)

  • When eaten in powder form, erythritol creates a cooling sensation as it dissolves in the mouth, referred to as a cooling effect

  • To minimize the cooling effect, is often blended with other low-digestible sweeteners (polyols and soluble fibers such as inulin, FOS)

  • The caloric value per gram is close to zero (0.4 cal), being promoted as a calorie-free sweetener (1.2 to 1.6 cal/tsp)

  • Most of the erythritol you consume is not digested and so, is excreted unchanged, without any decomposition, through urine

  • 10 to 40% of the erythritol ingested reaches the large intestine, where it is fermented by gut microbes and so, contribute energy

  • Excessive intake of pure erythritol on an empty stomach and without any other food may cause bloating, cramps, and laxative effects. 

 

XYLITOL

  • Also known as 'birch sugar', xylitol is found naturally in a variety of fruits & vegetables; due to being available only in tiny amounts ...

  • The store-bought xylitol is a synthetic sweetener produced from the 2nd most abundant polysaccharide in nature, hemicellulose

  • Xylitol is converted from xylose, a sugar isolated from hemicellulose; most common sources of xylose are birch wood & non-GMO corn

  • Xylitol from birch wood and non-GMO corn are chemically identical; products from corn are from China and tend to be less expensive

  • It is as sweet as table sugar (1:1 sugar substitute) and also looks a lot like it; has the most pronounced cooling effect of all polyols

  • 25 to 50% of the xylitol you eat is aborbed in the small intestine; the caloric value per gram is 2.4 cal or 10 cal/ tsp (4g)

  • It is slowly absorbed in the small intestine. Being slowly converted into glucose, it does not cause a sudden increase in blood sugar.

  • 50 to 75% of the ingested xylitol passes intact into the large intestine, where is fermented by the microbiota (health beneficial microbes)

  • Excessive intake of xylitol may cause flatulence, bloating, stomach rumble, cramps, and laxative effects 

  • Like all polyols, does not promote cavities (non-cariogenic); unique to xylitol is a cariostatic effect, as it staves harmful mouth bacteria

  • It is life-threatening to dogs, causing staggering, collapse, and seizures due to rapid decrease in their blood sugar; learn more here.

 
 

SORBITOL | MANNITOL | ISOMALT

  • Sorbitol & mannitol were the first polyols to become available as sweeteners; suited for sugar free recipes, they attracted diabetics  

  • Are found in nature, but the store-bought sorbitol and mannitol are synthetically produced from glucose and fructose, respectively

  • The most common and more cost-effective raw materials for both polyols is either cornstarch or glucose syrups

  • Sorbitol is used in sugar-free table syrups, such as pancake or waffle syrups, where it is combined with high intensity sweeteners

  • Sorbitol is also available in powder form; mannitol is sold only in powder due to its low solubility (only 22g dissolves in 100mL water)

  • Sorbitol has affinity for water and absorbs humidity from its surrounding (very hygroscopic); mannitol is the least hygroscopic polyol

  • Isomalt is another polyol, made from refined sugar (sucrose), available as granules or as a fine powder; often used for candy making

  • According to the FDA regulation for nutrition labels, one gram of sorbitol provides 2.6 cal or about 8 cal per teaspoon (3g)

  • Mannitol provides 1.6 calories per gram or about 7 calories per teaspoon (approximately 4 grams)

  • Isomalt provides 2.0 calories per gram or about 12 calories per teaspoon (6g); when in nib form it provides 10 cal per nib (about 5g)

  • Sorbitol has a strong cooling effect when placed in water or in the mouth; isomalt has the least cooling effect of all three

  • Sorbitol, mannitol and isomalt are about half as sweet as table sugar; i.e., 1 tsp sugar = 1/2 tsp of these polyols. 

 

SOLUBLE FIBERS

  • Mildly sweet soluble fibers are composed of short chains (aka oligomers) or long chains (aka polymers) of fructose or glucose.

  • Soluble fibers are not digested in the small intestine, and so provide less calories than sugars; they reach the large intestine intact.

  • Being fermented by microbes in the large intestine, they offer a variety of health benefits such as improved bowel function.

  • Dietary fibers used as sweeteners include inulin, fructooligosacharides (FOS), and isomaltooligosaccharides (IMO).

  • Inulin is a mixture of short and long chains of (2 to 60) fructose molecules; extracted from Jerusalem artichoke, chicory root, agave.

  • Fructooligosaccharides (FOS) are linear chains of (< 9) fructose molecules; present in yacon syrup or produced from inulin.

  • Isomaltooligosaccharides (IMO) are short chains of glucoses; produced from starch (tapioca or cassava).

  • Their sweetness vary. Inulin is only slightly sweet, 10% as sweet as table sugar. FOS and IMO are 30 to 65% as sweet as sugar.

  • They provide less than half the calories of table sugar, varying from 1 to 2 calories per gram or about 10 calories per teaspoon.

  • Yacon is a plant farmed in Peru and its root, which looks like a sweet potato, is rich in fructooligosaccharides. 

  • Yacon syrup and powder, obtained from the juice of yacon root, are a blend of sugars and FOS; both are less sweet than sugar.

  • Yacon syrup has a dark color and consistency similar to cane molasses; it provides about 7 calories per teaspoon.

  • Yacon powder works well in baked goods as it does not dissolve so easily in liquids; provides about 25 calories per teaspoon.

 
 
 

RARE SUGARS

  • Rare sugars are mildly sweet carbohydrates promoted as the "real sugar without the calories"

  • As the name implies, they are found in nature in small amounts but, for a cost-effective industrial scale, they are synthetically made 

  • Provide the functional benefits of regular sugars such as bulking properties (body and weight) and browning reaction

  • Offer almost identical taste and texture of table sugar, but with the advantage of providing fewer calories

  • Behave very differently in our body when compared with regular sugars; they are low-digestible sugars (Find out what it is here)

  • They are completely or partially absorbed in the small intestine but not significantly metabolized, as a result, provide low caloric value

  • You can typically use about the same amount as table sugar to achieve desired results in your recipes, but they will not be as sweet  

  • I have found tabletop sweeteners containing the following rare sugars: allulose (aka D-psicose), D-Xylose, and D-tagatose

  • Tagatose (from lactose) is about 90% as sweet as sugar and provides about 30% of the calories of table sugar (1.5 cal per gram)

  • Allulose (from corn starch) is approximately 70% as sweet as table sugar and provides 5% of the calories of table sugar (0.2 cal/g)

  • Since 2019, Allulose may be excluded from the sugar count on nutrition facts labels and may be used with "no added sugar" claim

  • Xylose (from hemicellulose), aka wood sugar or coconut shell powder, is used to produce xylitol and is about half as sweet as sugar.

 
 

MEASURE LIKE SUGAR

aka Cup-for-Cup Sweetener

  • Explore here tabletop sweeteners that are as sweet as table sugar and so, measure like it on a 1:1 ratio. What a convenience!

  • No need to look for a conversion chart on the product's label, as one cup of these sweeteners is equal to one cup of table sugar

  • Compared to one cup of table sugar, which provides about 770 cal, they have much less calories, from 70 to 528 cal per cup

  • They are usually a blend of a low-digestible sweetener and a high intensity sweetener

  • The predominant ingredient in the products below is often a low-digestible carbohydrate such as erythritol or soluble fibers  

  • Only natural high intensity sweeteners (HIS), stevia and monk fruit, are used in the cup-for-cup sweeteners

  • By law, some of these sweeteners may be labeled as 'zero calorie' because one serving provides less than 5 cal

  • If one serving of these sweeteners provide < 5 cal, it can be rounded to zero in the Nutrition Facts label (Important info on that here)

  • One cup (48 tsp) of most of these sweeteners provides up to 70 cal (unless otherwise stated in the images below) 

  • In case you are using and measuring teaspoons of these tabletop sweeteners, go to the 'Teaspoon-for-Teaspoon' sweeteners page

  • When substituting them for sugar, measure 'equal volume', not 'equal weight', because they tend to be much lighter than table sugar.

 
 

WhatSugar  Blog is reader-supported.

 

When you buy through Amazon links, this blog may earn an affiliate commission.

A one-woman business relying on Amazon affiliate commission to avoid ads.

Copyright © 2020   WhatSugar Blog | By Adriane Mulinari Campos 

Everywhere in the USA | Based in Richmond,VA | Email me at info@whatsugar.com

  • WhatSugar YouTube Channel
  • WhatSugar Blog Facebook
  • Twitter what_sugar
  • WhatSugar Blog Pinterest
  • WhatSugar Blog Instagram
  • LinkedIn