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Sorbitol is a sweetener that is commonly added to industrially manufactured foods, especially products intended for people with diabetes. It occurs naturally in some fruits, such as plums, pears, and apples. It is also used in the production of cosmetics. What are the properties of sorbitol? Is it safe for he alth?

Properties and use of sorbitol

Sorbitol belongs to the group of sugar alcohols (polyols). It comes in the form of white granular powder or flakes, but most often it is available for sale in the form of 70%. an aqueous solution. Industrially, it is obtained by catalytic hydrogenation of glucose in the presence of nickel.

Sorbitol is naturally present in some fruits, algae and mushrooms. Most of it is found in prunes (12.7 g / 100 g), pears (2.1 g / 100 g), cherries (1.4 g / 100 g) and peaches (0.9 g / 100 g). Sorbitol shows 50-60% sweetness of sucrose and has a pure sweet taste.

When consuming it, the sensation of chill in the mouth is felt. It is often combined with synthetic sweeteners in foods to mask their bitter aftertaste.

In addition to its sweetening properties, food manufacturers use other properties of sorbitol. It is used as a filler and stabilizer in food products and also improves their moisture content and texture.

It is hygroscopic, therefore it keeps water inside the product. Sorbitol is not involved in Maillard reactions, i.e. browning reactions occurring at high temperatures, characteristic of bakery products.

As a food additive, sorbitol is marked with the symbol E-420.

Sorbitol is used to sweeten low-calorie products, protein bars, milk and fruit desserts, ice cream, bakery and cocoa products, sauces, liqueurs and mustards. Sorbitol is not fermented by oral bacteria, so it is often found in chewing gums and toothpastes.

This ingredient is also used very often in cosmetics. In cosmetic products, it has a thickening and clarifying effect, prevents the preparations from drying out and improves their moisturizing properties. Sorbitol is a weak allergen, so it can be used by people with sensitive skin.

How many calories does sorbitol have?

Interestingly, noyou can precisely determine the calorific value of sorbitol, because its calorific value depends on how much sweetener you consume and to what extent the body will absorb sorbitol into the bloodstream.

In the United States, it is assumed that 100 g of sorbitol provides 260 kcal, and in the European Union - 240 kcal. This is much less than sugar (400 kcal / 100 g), but sorbitol is half as sweet, so you should use more to get the sweetening power of sucrose. This way, we won't save on calories.

Sorbitol is very rarely used in home cooking, and in ready-made foods it is combined with intense sweeteners to reduce the caloric content of the product. In the body, it is metabolized in a completely different way than glucose, and its consumption does not cause increased insulin secretion.

For this reason, sorbitol is recommended to people suffering from diabetes and is often found in food intended for diabetics.


Excess sorbitol can cause gas and diarrhea

Sorbitol is only partially absorbed into the body after ingestion, and the process is slow. A small amount of sorbitol is metabolized similar to fructose in the liver and can eventually be converted to glucose.

Most of it passes unchanged into the large intestine where it is fermented by intestinal bacteria. For this reason, high consumption of sorbitol can cause gas, gas, and sometimes intestinal cramps and diarrhea. It should not be used by people suffering from irritable bowel syndrome.

In some people, intestinal symptoms may appear after consuming 5 g of sorbitol. Most often, undesirable effects appear after consuming 25-30 g of polyhydric alcohol in a single dose, which exceeds the amounts usually used in ready-made food. It is worth knowing that the laxative properties of prunes result from the presence of sorbitol and fiber in them.

Is sorbitol safe for he alth?

There are no restrictions on the use of sorbitol as a food additive. Pursuant to the Regulation of the Minister of He alth of November 22, 2010 on permitted additives, there is an obligation to include information on the packaging saying that "excessive amounts may have a laxative effect" when the content of alcoholic alcohols in a food product exceeds 10%.

Sorbitol should not be given to children under 1 year of age as it can cause severe diarrhea. There are reports according to which sorbitol may contribute to the induction of diabetic nephropathy, i.e. kidney damage in diabetics and obese people. Damagekidney disease can occur as a result of the osmotic properties of sorbitol and causing "swelling" of cells.


Sorbitol is a substance with a very wide industrial application, showing sweetening properties. Sorbitol is most often found in low-calorie foods intended for people suffering from diabetes. It is also used in the production of toothpaste and other cosmetics.

Consumed in greater amounts, sorbitol may cause diarrhea. We should not be afraid of sorbitol in food if we do not eat ready-made products in excess.

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