Sorbitol, a sugar alcohol derivative of glucose also occurs naturally in some fruits and vegetables and is commonly used in "sugar-free" candies, jams and jellies and baked goods. Sorbitol is generally recognised as safe by the FDA, and may be used as a sugar substitute by people with diabetes or by people looking to cut back on calories.
Sorbitol is actually a carbohydrate with a chemical structure that resembles sugar and alcohol. It is lower in calories than regular sugar because it is not completely absorbed in the body. Sorbitol's sweetness level is about 50 to 70 per cent as compared to sucrose and each gram of sorbitol has about 2.6 calories.
You can find sugar free versions of candies, baked goods, and jams sweetened with Sorbitol in your local grocery store. Sorbitol's humectant properties make it a good substitute for sugar in candy and jam recipes. Sorbitol is not as good for baking however, because breads and pastries baked using sorbitol will not brown in the oven. You may be able to work around the baking problem by blending sorbitol with sugar. Consult a low-carb or diabetes cookbook for information on substituting sorbitol for sugar in recipes.
Sorbitol may not be suitable for people with fructose intolerance, and has a laxative effect on some people. The American Dietetic Association warns that sorbitol intake of over 50 mg per day can cause diarrhoea. Your doctor or a registered dietitian can help you decide whether sorbitol is the right sugar substitute for you and advise you about safe usage.
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