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.
Make your selection below:
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.
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.
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
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, 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.
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 sugar. These products 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, tagatose), and (3) some soluble fibers (inulin, fructo- and isomalto-oligosaccharides). As opposed to high-intensity sweeteners, all of 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.
Except for xylitol, all of them are less sweet than table sugar. They tend to be blended with high-intensity sweeteners (stevia, monk fruit, sucralose, aspartame, acesulfame K, and neotame). See erythritol blends, xylitol blends, sorbitol blends, soluble fiber blends, and allulose blends.
Advantages: Give you sweet taste with fewer calories than table sugar, bulk for recipes, and may offer digestive health benefits.
Disadvantages: Eaten alone on an empty stomach or in excess may cause diarrhea or other adverse gastrointestinal effects.
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 intake. The 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.
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