The name of these all-natural good-for-you sweeteners is as confusing as their sugary taste.

Sugar alcohols or “polyols” are not sugars…or alcohol. But their amazing no or low-calorie natural, sweetening properties just might leave you a bit giddy.

Erythritol: The “King” of Sugar Alcohols

Found naturally in foods, sugar alcohols are a group of low-digestible carbohydrates used in a wide range of products, ranging from chewing gums (like Spry) to desserts (like Fred’s Incredible Muffins and Wellness Bakeries) as well as oral and health care products like toothpaste, mouthwash and lozenges.

There are several polyols used as ingredients in sugar-free foods including: erythritol, xylitol, isomalt, lactitol, maltitol, mannitol, and sorbitol.

Because each polyol has a different flavor profile and health benefits, you may find they’re a bit like wines: some are pleasing and go down easy, while others leave a bit of an aftertaste. And you can spot sugar alcohols in a product very easily: they are listed on The Nutrition Facts Panel on food labels as sugar alcohols or by their specific name.

Health Benefits of Sugar Alcohols

In addition to their clean sweet taste and unique functional properties, polyols offer important health benefits.

First, they don’t cause sudden increases in blood sugar levels – important for anyone concerned about diabetes, weight loss, cancer…and health in general. And second, they don’t promote tooth decay.

For sugar free, low carb healthy baking, try erythritol.You can use it cup for cup, just as you would sugar in most recipes.