Does Sugar Alcohol Raise Blood Sugar? Debunking the Myths

Does Sugar Alcohol Raise Blood Sugar

Sugar alcohols, such as xylitol, erythritol, and sorbitol, have gained popularity as sugar substitutes in recent years. People often turn to them for their reduced calorie content and potential benefits for dental health. However, a common question arises: Do sugar alcohols raise blood sugar levels? In this blog, we'll explore the impact of sugar alcohols on blood sugar and separate fact from fiction.

Understanding Sugar Alcohols:

Sugar alcohols are a type of carbohydrate that occurs naturally in some fruits and vegetables, but they can also be manufactured and added to processed foods as sweeteners. They are distinct from both sugars and alcohols like ethanol. Common sugar alcohols include:

  1. Xylitol
  2. Erythritol
  3. Sorbitol
  4. Mannitol
  5. Isomalt

Do Sugar Alcohols Affect Blood Sugar?

The short answer is that sugar alcohols generally have a minimal impact on blood sugar levels, making them a popular choice for people with diabetes or those looking to reduce their sugar intake. Here's why:

Incomplete Absorption: Sugar alcohols are not fully absorbed in the small intestine. Instead, they pass into the large intestine, where they are fermented by gut bacteria. This limited absorption means they have a smaller effect on blood sugar.

Low Glycemic Index (GI): Sugar alcohols typically have a low glycemic index, which measures how quickly a food raises blood sugar. Foods with a low GI have a gradual and modest impact on blood sugar.

Calorie Content: Sugar alcohols contain fewer calories than regular sugar because they are not fully metabolized for energy. This can be beneficial for weight management and blood sugar control.

Exceptions and Considerations:

While sugar alcohols are generally considered safe for most people, there are exceptions and factors to keep in mind:

  1. Individual Tolerance: Some people may experience digestive discomfort, including bloating and diarrhea, when consuming large amounts of sugar alcohols. It's essential to assess your own tolerance.

  2. Carb Counting: In some countries, sugar alcohols are counted as part of the total carbohydrate content on nutrition labels. If you're tracking carbs for diabetes management, be aware of how sugar alcohols are accounted for.

  3. Other Ingredients: Sugar alcohols are often used in combination with other sweeteners, so check ingredient labels for a complete understanding of a product's impact on blood sugar.


In most cases, sugar alcohols are a viable option for sweetening foods and beverages without causing significant spikes in blood sugar levels. However, individual responses can vary, so it's crucial to monitor your own body's reaction and consult with a healthcare professional, especially if you have diabetes or specific dietary concerns. When used wisely, sugar alcohols can be a valuable tool for reducing sugar intake while still enjoying sweet flavors.

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