Mannitol is a polyol (sugar alcohol) that is used as sugar substitute and laxative. The taste of mannitol compares to about 60% as sweet as table sugar (sucrose), but contains only 2.6 calories per gram as compared to 4 calories per gram for sucrose. Unlike many common sugars, such as fructose or sucrose, mannitol does not contribute to tooth decay.
Mannitol is largely used as a humectant in many types of products to maintain moisture content. The moisture-stabilizing and textural properties of mannitol are used in the production of confectionery, baked goods and chocolate where products tend to become dry or harden. Its moisture-stabilizing action protects these products from drying and maintains their initial freshness during storage. Additionally, mannitol a stable and chemically unreactive compound. It can withstand high temperatures and does not participate in Maillard (browning) reactions. This is an advantage, for example, in the production of cookies where a fresh color with no appearance of browning is desired.
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