This group consists of a sugar similar to glucose and the so-called sugar alcohols, the names of which end in -ol. Fructose has the same number of kilo-calories per gram as glucose (4), but the sugar alcohols have half as many (2). Food manufacturers like to use the sugar alcohols in all kinds of products that they call "sugarless," but it's important to remember that the sugar alcohols aren't calorie-free. Here's a rundown of fructose and sugar alcohols:
^ Fructose is fruit sugar found in fruits and berries. Its great advantage it that it's absorbed much more slowly than glucose although it has about the same sweetening power as table sugar, which is sucrose.
^ Xylitol is a sugar alcohol found in strawberries and raspberries. Xylitol has the sweetening power of sucrose. It's taken up slowly from the intestine, so it causes little change in blood glucose. Xylitol doesn't cause cavities of the teeth as often as the other sweeteners containing calories, so it's commonly used in chewing gum, hard candy, and some drugs.
^ Sorbitol and mannitol are sugar alcohols occurring in plants. Sorbitol and mannitol are half as sweet as table sugar and have little effect on blood glucose. They change to fructose in the body. (I mention sorbitol in Chapter 5. When taken as a food, sorbitol doesn't accumulate and damage tissues.) Sorbitol is used in candies, chewing gum, jams and jellies, and baked goods. Mannitol is used in chewing gum, candies, jams and jellies, and frostings.
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