The Science Behind Sugar Alcohols and Sugar Free Ice Cream

The Science Behind Sugar Alcohols and Sugar Free Ice Cream

I never thought I'd be writing an article about sugar, running an ice cream business. 😁

Growing up with a dad who loved ice cream immensely and sweets in general, and a mom who baked fresh, delicious Slovakian cakes and desserts every single weekend, I turned out to be not so crazy about sweets. My favorite has always been refreshing lemon sorbet or sherbet and I also love dark chocolate. 

Science and health have been my few true passions from a young age.

So many customers ask about sugar-free ice cream, so I must dive into this for you, in hopes you find it helpful and informative. This is my take based on science, not based on what manufacturing companies are saying in order to sell their products. 

I completely understand the confusion about sugar free ice cream!

 Big corporate marketing is confusing. It’s more about profits than the truth. And trust me I get it, business can only exist if it's profitable, but I also believe in integrity and bigger purpose.

In our previous blog, we addressed why we must use sugar in ice cream and why we choose those particular sugars. Now, let me dive into the sugar alcohols that people ask us about often.

 people eating revival ice cream

What are sugar alcohols?

Sugar alcohols are carbohydrates and most have zero calories and zero carbs. Widely used erythritol is technically a four-carbon sugar alcohol or polyol that contains about 60 - 80 percent of the sweetness of table sugar.

Sugar alcohols come from fruits and vegetables. They simply convert to glucose more slowly than carbohydrates from sweeteners like honey, or coconut nectar. That sounds great, right? Well, unfortunately, it's more complicated... 

There are many different sugar alcohols.

Some, like xylitol ( highly toxic to dogs!) –are larger molecules, and these molecules are not necessarily digested by the human body. When they get into the gastrointestinal tract, in particular, the colon, they can attract water and cause abdominal pain and diarrhea.

Erythritol is a smaller molecule and less sweet than Xylitol, which allows it to be absorbed through the small intestine into the bloodstream. Even though it occurs naturally, in fruits and vegetables, the amount is so small, it has to be mass produced. It requires commercial production. One of the processes begins with enzymatic hydrolysis of the starch from corn which is most likely GMO corn to generate glucose. Glucose is then fermented with yeast or another fungus to produce erythritol.

Since erythritol is not as sweet as sugar, it is sometimes combined in foods with other artificial sweeteners that are many times sweeter than table sugar. As a result, you may unexpectedly ingest more harmful compounds that can eventually be detrimental to your health.

YES, erythritol is 0 calories but is it a safe and smart sugar substitute? Just because a sweetener doesn’t have calories, it does not mean that it’s necessarily a good choice. 

sugar free label

Be a label reader.

Pay attention to the ingredient list of your favorite sugar free ice cream. It's most likely filled with a lot of ingredients you probably wouldn't buy and use in your home cooking.

What may be hiding in that sugar free ice cream may be more harmful than organic cane sugar or coconut nectar. Unfortunately, many of them are filled with controversial additives that can be sabotaging your weight and your health – even if they have no calories, or have really short ingredient lists!

The problems I see with sugar free ice cream products:

  • They are highly processed and most are made with GMO and artificial ingredients.  Erythritol is one of those “invisible GMO ingredients".
  • Sugar alcohols cause bloating, gas, stomach upset and diarrhea. I actually experienced it myself, when I experimented with chocolate made with xylitol.
  • The majority of erythritol used in products today is man-made by taking glucose (most commonly from GMO cornstarch) and fermenting it with a yeast called Moniliella pollinis.
  • Another problem is overeating and gaining weight from excess calories. Eating foods laced with sugar alcohols may make you think you're eating fewer calories, leading you to indulge a bit more, thus consuming more total calories. 

label for sugar free item

What about Stevia or Monk Fruit?

They may be a great, natural option for some home uses, but they simply don't work on their own for churning ice cream commercially, even in small batches.

Plus, they are usually combined with other sugar alcohols or artificial ingredients.

Their flavor and their chemical composition wouldn’t work for tasty, creamy ice cream. That is why you have never seen an ice cream ingredient list that will have just milk, stevia, and strawberries, or a list that has just milk, monk fruit, and chocolate.

The Revival Ice Cream Mission

You can decide how to eat your sugar and carbs but we vote for real food, high quality, and delicious ice cream with a transparency of our ingredients.

We balance organic sugars with high quality fats from grass fed cows, or organic coconut milk and cream.

Hopefully, you see that it's not our vision to create sugar free ice cream, but to bring you quality food and a delicious treat. It is ice cream after all, so ENJOY it for what it is and create sweet memories. 😋

Taste The Love

 

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revival ice cream shop now