What Is Sorbitol?

Label Able: Sorbitol

I'm a very picky label reader, and I won't buy anything at the grocery store unless I scan the label first. If you're the same way, you may have come across the ingredient sorbitol. It's a sugar substitute you'll often find in diet or "light" foods, in sugar-free gum, candy, and mints, and in diet drinks. You'll also find it in mouthwashes, toothpaste, and cough syrups. Sorbitol is made from glucose, and is 60 percent as sweet as sucrose but has one-third of the calories. This sweetener has been safely used for over 50 years, and the only requirement of the FDA is that companies write on the label, "Excess consumption may have a laxative effect." Yes, it's true. If you eat too much of this sweetener, you can end up with extreme abdominal cramping and regular trips to the ladies room. Proving once again that moderation is key — even with low-cal sweeteners. Sorbitol is OK for diabetics and has been found to be non-carcinogenic. I'm not big into diet foods, but at least I know this ingredient is safe.

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