SD Girl


Do you count the "sugar alcohols" in sugarfree candies like Lifesavers sugarfree breath mints? I've read and been told yes and no. Even if I don't eat, if I suck on one or two mints in a three to four hour period (for my dry mouth), my blood glucose level tends to be high — so frustrating. What is a diabetic supposed to do if we do have to count those in our daily count?

Amy Campbell


Sugar alcohols are types of nutritive sweeteners, just like sugar, honey and maple syrup. Sorbitol, mannitol, erythritol and xylitol are examples of sugar alcohols. Unlike sugar, though, sugar alcohols have about half the amount of calories and carbohydrate per serving. For this reason, we subtract half of the sugar alcohol grams (they’re listed on the Nutrition Facts label, under Total Carbohydrate) from the total carbohydrate grams. So, for example, if a food contains 30 grams of carbohydrate and 20 of these 30 grams come from sugar alcohols, you would subtract 10 grams (half of 20) from the 30 grams, and “count” that item as having only 20 grams of carbohydrate per serving. In the case of sugar-free Lifesavers, a serving size is 4 mints, which contain 35 calories and 14 grams of sugar alcohols. Half of these 14 grams is 7, so you would count 4 of those mints as having 7 grams of carbohydrate. It’s unlikely, therefore, that eating only one or two sugar-free mints is giving you enough carbohydrate to cause high blood glucose. It’s more likely that there is another reason for your high glucose levels (not enough medicine, too much carbohydrate, etc.). Talk with your provider or meet with a diabetes educator to help figure out the cause and any changes that you may need to make to your treatment plan.

October 15, 2012 at 7:28 pm