Home Healthy Eating Sorbitol (E 420): Application & Recommendations

Sorbitol (E 420): Application & Recommendations

by Josephine Andrews
Published: Last Updated on 243 views

Sorbitol is a sugar substitute that is often used for diabetic foods. It is also found in toothpaste. Sorbitol is listed on products with the E number 420. Here you can read interesting facts about the sweetener, which products contain it and what you should consider when dosing.

What is sorbitol?

Sorbitol, also known as sorbitol or glucitol, is a sugar substitute and belongs to the sugar alcohols. It occurs naturally in certain fruits, such as the berries of the mountain ash. But the human body also produces it as part of the carbohydrate metabolism.

The additive listed under the European approval number E 420 is artificially produced from glucose using enzymes. Genetically modified organisms may be used.

Sorbitol is a white, odorless powder, dissolves well in water and is insensitive to heat and acids. In the food industry, E 420 is used as a sweetener, emulsifier, humectant, carrier material and bulking agent.

Where is sorbitol found?

With 2.4 calories per gram, sorbitol provides significantly fewer calories than table sugar (about 4 calories per gram). However, it only has half the sweetening power, which is why more of it has to be used to achieve the same result. That’s why you hardly save any calories if you take sorbitol instead of sugar.

The great advantage of sorbitol lies elsewhere: the metabolism in the body is insulin-independent, which is why the additive is also suitable for diabetics.

Sorbitol is found naturally in various fresh foods and as an additive in processed products. The following food list is a selection:

  • Dried fruits like raisins
  • pears
  • tomatoes
  • plums
  • apples
  • Apricots, apricots, peaches
  • sugar-free products, such as candy and chewing gum
  • packaged sweets such as cakes, nut rolls and muffins
  • ice cream
  • sauces
  • Mustard
  • Diabetic products

On the other hand, foods such as oatmeal, bananas, cauliflower, potatoes or wholemeal bread do not contain sorbitol.

How is sorbitol used?

E 420 is permitted in almost all foods in any amount, the quantum satis principle applies. This means that just as much of this additive may be used as is necessary. Foods containing sorbitol have a slightly laxative effect, so you should not eat too much of them.

In addition to its sweet properties, sorbitol is also valued as a humectant. The chemical compound E 420 draws water from the air, preventing food from drying out and becoming hard. Because of this water-attracting (hygroscopic) effect, sorbitol is also used in cosmetics and medicines.

Sorbitol is also used in dental care products because the oral bacteria can hardly process the sweetener. In addition, sorbitol reduces acid production in the deeper layers of bacterial plaque, which in turn can prevent or reduce the development of (enamel) caries.

In addition, E 420 is often included in food supplements and serves as a carrier for flavors and vitamins.

Is sorbitol harmful?

Sorbitol is generally considered harmless. However, in larger amounts, it also causes diarrhea in healthy people. Foods in which the proportion of sugar substitutes such as E 420 is more than ten percent are therefore provided with the warning “excessive consumption can have a laxative effect”.

In addition, there are also people with an intolerance to sorbitol. Those affected experience digestive problems when consuming the appropriate foods.

People with fructose intolerance, i.e. fructose intolerance, should also avoid sorbitol, as it is suspected of inhibiting the GLUT transporters (membrane proteins that allow glucose to pass through cell membranes) and thus further worsening the already limited fructose absorption .

You may also like

Leave a Comment