Sugar alcohols, such as sorbitol and xylitol, occur naturally in many fruits and vegetables. They are added to certain candies, desserts and other products as artificial sweeteners because they contain fewer carbohydrates than regular sugars. Fruits and vegetables that contain high levels of sugar alcohols are also lower in calories, and are therefore more attractive for dietetic reasons.
According to the U.S. Apple Association, apples are one of the healthiest fruits you can eat and they are also high in sugar alcohols, specifically sorbitol. They also contain fructose and sucrose, which are traditional sugars, but the high fibre content helps regulate blood sugar for those with diabetes. Sorbitol offers approximately 60 per cent sweetness compared to sucrose.
Xylitol is a type of sugar alcohol most readily found in corn. It is often extracted from corn and used as a sweetener to flavour other products, such as baked goods and chewing gum, but it can also be found in a typical corncob. Corn also contains potassium and protein.
Although mannitol and other sugar alcohols have been linked to gastrointestinal discomfort, according to the American Diabetes Association, it usually produces no negative effects if taken in small quantities. Mannitol is found in pineapples in large quantity and provides between 50 and 70 per cent sweetness compared to sugar.
Carrots are another optimal source of mannitol, as well as other nutrients. Since carrots can be used in a wide variety of dishes, from soups and casseroles to veggie plates and salads, they are a flexible source of sugar alcohols.
Sorbitol can be found in plums, which also contain sucrose, fructose and glucose. Plums are excellent sources of vitamins and minerals and contain fewer carbohydrates than many other fruits. For this reason, they are common in diabetic diets.