Protein bars use sugar alcohols to add sweetness rather than sugars. Sugar alcohols are processed carbohydrates that mimic the molecular structure of sugar molecules leading us to taste them as sweet. Per gram, sugar alcohols are comprised of fewer calories than real sugar because of their inability to be wholly digested; ingesting them can cause abdominal issues. To prevent stomach indigestion or IBS symptoms, choose bars with the least or zero sugar alcohols. However, if you can stomach sugar alcohols in your diet, they are a handy alternative to real sugar!
Common sugar alcohols we may know are xylitol, erythritol, sorbitol, and maltitol. Xylitol is used in commercial sugar-free toothpaste and mints. Interestingly, this familiar mint-tasting ingredient has 40% less calories than real sugar. This could attribute to the procedural warning to not swallow your toothpaste—doing so may cause digestive disturbances. Erythritol may be the healthiest sugar alcohol because it contains only 5% of real sugar calories, and it’s safer on the digestive system because erythritol is excreted in urine before reaching the large intestine.
Sugar alcohols, except maltitol, have a lower glycemic index and gentle for those with diabetes and weight issues.They prevent tooth decay due to their inability to metabolize bacteria in the mouth. Alternatively, sugar alcohols promote the growth of healthy gut bacteria. Other health perks include bone and skin maintenance and longevity.
Sugar alcohols are used in most dietary supplementations as an alternative way to enjoy the taste of sweetness with half the calories. It is used in medications to help swallow them down easier and as a reward method to get children--and adults--to complete tasks. Sweetness is the taste receptor that will outlive all the others like umami and sour, and does, quite simply, make us feel happy. If we can enjoy sweetness and enjoy its perks, besides the discomfort that may accompany its ingestion, these faux sugars may be the best sugar fix yet.
“Sugar Alcohols: Good or Bad?” Healthline, Healthline Media, www.healthline.com/nutrition/sugar-alcohols-good-or-bad.