What is Mannitol?
Mannitol is one of the eight sugar alcohols. It is a low-calorie food sweetener that contains 1.6 calories per gram compared to four calories per gram for sugar. It has about half the sweetness of sugar. Its glycemic index (GI) is a scant two compared to sugar’s GI of 65. Sugar alcohols like mannitol are excellent options for sweetening food without significantly elevating blood sugar. Mannitol also doesn’t contribute to tooth decay like sugar does.
Mannitol is non-hygroscopic, meaning it doesn’t attract and hold water. However, it is water-soluble. That’s why candy makers use mannitol to make hard candy coatings on chocolate, sugar-free products, and chewable disintegrating tablets. It’s also a helpful anti-caking substance. Mannitol is also popular in baking, as its high melting point (165 degrees Fahrenheit) prevents unsightly browning on baked goods.
Mannitol Uses and Potential Benefits
Mannitol may help individuals trying to lose weight. Using mannitol in place of sugar in recipes reduces the overall calories and sugar content of the meal, as the intestines don’t absorb mannitol as well as sugar. Insulin secretions are lower when individuals consume mannitol in comparison to sugar. As such, it may help individuals balance their blood sugar levels.
Mannitol is included in numerous dental hygiene products and may provide oral health benefits. It has a cooling effect and doesn’t promote cavity development like regular sugar. It also encourages saliva production and salivary mucins, which coat the teeth in a protective barrier. Because of these properties, mannitol is one of the most common sugar alcohols found in sugar-free gum.
Mannitol Side Effects
Mannitol is a common ingredient in sugar-free products and oral hygiene products. Most individuals tolerate mannitol powder well. However, consuming significant amounts of mannitol powder in a short period may cause gas, bloating, and diarrhea.
What is the Best Sugar Substitute?
Mannitol is a useful sugar substitute for individuals trying to reduce their calorie and sugar intake. Several sugar substitutes are available on the market with subtly different flavors. Mannitol has a sweet, cool flavor, which makes it popular in chewing gum and oral sanitization products. Some other sugar substitutes include:
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