What are Polyols?
Polyols are carbohydrates but they are not sugars. They are also called ‘sugar alcohols’ because their chemical structure resembles partly sugar and partly alcohol but they are neither sugars, nor alcohol. Polyols may be used in food either for sweetening purposes or for technological purposes, e.g. emulsifiers, stabilisers, humectants, thickeners, texturisers and bulking agents.
Origin of Polyols
Some polyols are found naturally in various fruits and vegetables, for example sorbitol in plums, erythritol in grapes, or xylitol in mushrooms. In order to obtain them in volumes required by their technological and nutritional use in a broad range of food, pharmaceutical and cosmetic applications, industrial processes are applied. Starting materials are all from natural sources (corn, wheat, sugar beet, milk, etc.).
Processing of Polyols
Depending on the agricultural source, the carbohydrates contained are processed as such, or in the case of corn or wheat enzymatically hydrolysed, i.e. cut by selected enzymes in smaller units. The resulting mono-, di-, oligo- or polysaccharides are then treated with hydrogen and further purified before packaging. Polyols can also be obtained by fermentation process, as with erythritol.
Purchase of high quality polyols
Polyols are commercially available in powdered and liquid forms.
The highest European quality and traceability standards, from raw materials to finished products, are applied by EPA members (European association of polyol producers) for the production of their polyols. Quality Management Systems are validated by third-party auditors from appropriate certification bodies.
What are the benefits of Polyols?
New nutrition policies are developed all over the world with the aim to contribute to the prevention of overweight and obesity, and subsequently to the prevention of a number of associated non-communicable diseases. These policies often insist on the need for healthy formulated foods as part of a global approach. Poyols are bulking ingredients with many technological properties similar to sugars, with varying degrees of sweetness (less or the same as sucrose). In addition they have proven benefits in terms of dental health, improved glycaemic control and calorie-reduction. These properties make them a unique asset in healthy food formulation.