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February 18, 2002

Meal Planning, Food and Diet

Question from Franklin, Tennessee, USA:

I see a lot of sugarfree items with sugar alcohol. Can you please tell me what it is? Is it safe for people with diabetes?

Answer:

Sugar alcohols are another form of sweetener. They do not raise blood sugars as quickly as table sugar, so you’ve probably seen them in sugarfree cookies and other reduced calorie snacks. Sugar alcohols can be found in the ingredient listing with an -ol ending (examples are sorbitol, mannitol, xylitol,etc).

Be cautious about how many of these foods you consume at any one time since they are not broken down as completely by your body. Overconsumption may cause a laxative effect in some people, but a little bit is fine for people with diabetes to use, especially if they have a sweet tooth.

JMS