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

On my quest to discover all sweeteners that are partially or minimally digested,

I found about 200 products. I list them here in six groups and explain what they have in common.

Make your selection below: 

Quick Facts about Low-Digestible Sweeteners


  • Hard-to-digest sweeteners have sweet carbohydrates that resist digestion and so, provide 25 to 90% fewer calories than table sugarThese sugar alternatives are not calorie-free, but by law may be labeled as zero-calorie if they provide <5 cal/serving (Wondering what one serving is? Read THIS).

  • Low-digestible carbohydrates used as sweeteners include (1) polyols (erythritol, xylitol, sorbitol, maltitol, mannitol, isomalt), (2) rare sugars (allulose, kabocha extract), and (3) some soluble fibers (inulin, fructo- and isomalto-oligosaccharides). As opposed to high-intensity sweeteners, such as stevia and monk fruit, those carbs have a bulking property, which is the ability to add weight and volume to foods, impacting mouthfeel and texture, as regular sugar does.

  • Advantages: They give you a sweet taste with fewer calories than table sugar; they provide bulk for recipes and may offer digestive health benefits.

  • Disadvantages: If you eat them alone on an empty stomach or in excess, you may experience diarrhea or other adverse gastrointestinal effects, as I discuss next.

How do Low-Digestible Sweeteners Behave in our Body?

  • Low-digestible sweeteners are carbohydrates that are partially or not digested at all. They reach the large intestine intact and are fermented by healthy bacteria. These carbohydrates contribute fewer calories than table sugar (3 to almost zero calories per gram). To compare, table sugar is completely digested (4 calories per g) and high-intensity sweeteners may or may not be absorbed and metabolized, but they are effectively calorie-free. Low-digestible carbohydrates are referred to as reduced-calorie sweeteners.


  • When it comes to the effect on blood sugar level, low-digestible sweeteners may act in one of two ways: (1) be slowly converted into glucose, not causing a sudden increase in blood sugar; or (2) have no effect on blood glucose. Their manufacturers or distributors often promote them as low glycemic index sweeteners

  • The portion of low-digestible sweeteners that is not digested by gut enzymes, reaches the large intestine intact and is fermented by microbiota (healthy bacteria in the gut). They provide health benefits as prebiotics by stimulating the growth and activity of gut microbes or as a fiber by improving bowel function


  • Adverse effects, a consequence of undigested sweeteners reaching the large intestine, include a variety of digestive issues. Bloating, stomach rumble, flatulence, and diarrhea are commonly associated with excessive intakeThe uncomfortable digestive effects you might feel are similar to those experienced when having too many high-fiber foods (beans). 


  • All low-digestible sweeteners are FODMAP carbohydrates, an acronym for Fermentable Oligo-, Di-, Mono-saccharides, and Polyols. The term was coined to designate the negative effects caused by those carbohydrates. Lactose and fructose are also included in the FODMAP definition. FODMAPs should not be consumed by people suffering from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). 

  • Low-digestible carbohydrates are not cariogenic. Unique to xylitol is the cariostatic or anti-cavity effect as it starves harmful mouth bacteria, inhibiting their growth and activity. Visit my tooth-friendly sweeteners page to learn more. Some low-digestible sweeteners are referred to as noncariogenic carbohydrate sweeteners by the Food and Drug Administration.

What is low-digestible?

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