Written by Elise Mandl, BSc, APD on march 24, 2020 — median reviewed through Jillian Kubala, MS, RD, Nutrition

Sugar is the surname of sweet-tasting carbohydrates that your human body can convert into energy.

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Sugar alcohols are likewise sweet-tasting. However, they have actually a different chemical structure, and also your body does not absorb them as efficiently.

Both are discovered naturally in food and also also included to handle items.

Although they’re provided in comparable ways, they exhibit varying results on her digestion, blood street levels, and also oral health.

This article explains the necessary differences between sugar and sugar alcohol.

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Sugars room sweet-tasting carbs. Top top a chemistry level, they make up carbon, hydrogen, and also oxygen atoms.

They’re naturally found in foodstuffs like fruits, vegetables, grains, and dairy products, too as added to processed foods.

Simple sugars can be divided into two key categories — monosaccharides and disaccharides.

Monosaccharides are the simplest type of sugar and also contain just one kind of street molecule.

Glucose is the simplest sugar and also your body’s preferred source of energy. The the street that’s measure up in blood sugar tests. Various other monosaccharides are fructose and galactose, which room metabolized into glucose (1, 2).

Disaccharides are comprised of two monosaccharide street bound together. They have to be split apart because that digestion (1, 2).

The most typical disaccharide is sucrose, i beg your pardon is additionally known together table sugar and made increase of a glucose and fructose molecule. Meanwhile, lactose is uncovered in milk and also made increase of a glucose and galactose molecule, and maltose is consisted of of two glucose molecules.


Sugar refers to the sweet-tasting carbs that your body offers for energy. They’re made up of solitary or combine molecules recognized as monosaccharides (glucose, fructose, and also galactose) and disaccharides (sucrose, lactose, and also maltose), respectively.

Sugar alcohols, also called polyols, space a form of carbohydrate whose structure resembles both sugars and alcohol.

Still, street alcohols perform not contain ethanol, and they’re for this reason safe for people who choose to stop alcohol.

Given that they’re similar to sugar, they deserve to activate the sweet receptors on your tongue and have a pleasing, cooling impact on the taste of foodstuffs (1).

However, they’re not as efficiently absorbed or spend as constant sugar and therefore contain under calories.

They’re discovered naturally in some fruits and vegetables, such together plums, strawberries, and avocado, and also made by processing constant sugars.

Sugar alcohols are often used as reduced calorie sweeteners in sugar-free chewing gum and also candies, together food additive in processed foods, and also in toothpaste, particular medications, and laxatives.

Common varieties of street alcohols incorporate xylitol, erythritol, sorbitol, maltitol, mannitol, isomalt, and also lactitol (1).


Sugar alcohols have a structure similar to that of street but likewise contain an alcohol molecule. This means they taste sweet however are not soaked up and metabolized in the same method as sugar.

Sugar and also sugar alcohols differ significantly in sweetness, calorie content, and also digestion, as well as their result on blood sugar levels and oral health.

Calories and sweetness

Sugar alcohols contain under calories than continuous sugars.

On average, they supply around 2 calories per gram, contrasted with the 4 calories per gram supplied by street (1, 3).

Additionally, they are frequently slightly less sweet, giving 25–100% of the sweetness of table sugar. Lactitol is the the very least sweet, and xylitol is just as sweet as sucrose (1, 3, 4).

Excessive sugar intake is connected to wellness conditions, such as obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and inflammatory illness (2, 5).

Therefore, street alcohols may assist reduce sugar intake by providing a lower calorie alternate to sugar that still it is intended a sweet taste (1, 6).


Sugars are digested in the small intestine and also transported into the bloodstream come be more metabolized or used for energy (3, 7).

Conversely, your body does not digest street alcohols efficiently.

One exception is erythritol, i m sorry is well took in but no metabolized. Instead, the excreted with your to pee mostly intact (3, 8).

However, many sugar alcohols pass with to your big intestine, where they’re fermented through gut bacteria.

At higher intake levels, this can cause bloating, flatulence, stomach pain, and also diarrhea, particularly in individuals with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) (3, 9, 10).

Current referrals advise the moderate sheep of 10–15 grams per day are usually tolerated. However, sensitive people may need to avoid sugar alcohols, specifically sorbitol and maltitol, or mitigate their input to stop symptoms (3, 9, 10).

Effect ~ above blood street levels

When sugars are eaten, they’re broken down into a simple type and absorbed into the bloodstream, causing a rise in blood sugar levels (7).

Then, insulin transports the sugars right into your body’s cells to one of two people be convert into power or save on computer (7).

The glycemic index (GI) procedures how conveniently a food raises your blood street levels. Glucose has a GI that 100, if sucrose has a GI of 60, definition both have a high GI (11, 12).

Given the sugar alcohols are not properly absorbed, they have a much less far-reaching effect on your blood sugar levels and thus a lower GI, v values ranging between 0–36 (1).

Therefore, sugar alcohols can be a good alternative for civilization with pre-diabetes, diabetes, or metabolic syndrome.

Tooth decay

Sugars space fermented by bacteria in her mouth, i m sorry can produce acids that damages your tooth enamel and also increase your risk of dentist caries (1).

Sugar alcohols execute not contribute to this decay, as the bacteria in her mouth room unable come ferment lock (1).

In fact, xylitol and erythritol might even help prevent this decay, i m sorry is why it’s regularly used in toothpaste and sugar-free mints or gums. However, much more research is necessary (13, 14, 15).


Sugar alcohols are typically less sweet 보다 sucrose and also have fewer calories. They’re additionally less digestible, i m sorry may cause side effects in some people. ~ above the various other hand, sugar affects blood sugar levels an ext and may add to this decay.

Sugar and sugar alcohols are sweet-tasting carbs with slightly different chemical structures.

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Sugar alcohols are generally less sweet and contain fewer calories than sugars. Lock also impact blood sugar levels less significantly, making lock a suitable alternate for human being with diabetes.

Additionally, they’re not linked to tooth decay and may even aid prevent it.

However, uneven sugar, they’re no well soaked up by the body. This means that when they’re spend in big quantities or by sensitive individuals, lock can reason bloating, flatulence, stomach pain, and also diarrhea.