Sorbitol (or glucitol) is an alcohol with six carbon atoms belonging to the category of polyols, therefore functionally similar to common carbohydrates. In the IUPAC nomenclature it is: (2R, 3R, 4R, 5S) -esan-1,2,3,4,5,6-hexol and its brute or molecular formula is: C6H14O6.
Sorbitol has ample space in the food field as an acariogenic and hypocaloric sweetener; its sweetening power is in fact equal to 60% of that of sugar, but at the same weight it provides 40% less calories (2.6 Kcal / g versus 4 sucrose). Sorbitol has a fresh and pleasant taste, but above all it has the ability to give consistency to the product, retaining moisture and improving its preservation (it inhibits the development of yeasts, molds and other microorganisms). The use of sorbitol as a product to be added to food is due to the fact that the bacteria that cause the caries can not use it for their metabolism.
This characteristic makes sorbitol a very useful ingredient to keep pastry products (plum cake, petits four, sponge cake, etc.) and leavened products (panettone, croissants, brioches) softer longer. Its use in the food industry as a sweetener, stabilizer and leavening agent is classified as E420.
Sorbitol is present in red algae and in many berries and fruits such as apples, pears, plums, cherries and especially in that of the mountain ash (Sorbus spp.), From which it takes its name.
Sorbitol intake usually does not have side effects, but in modest doses (30 grams) or intolerant subjects can cause diarrhea. Its use is, however, not recommended for children under the age of one. Forwarding some subjects may manifest intolerance to this molecule. In predisposed subjects, sorbitol can therefore aggravate the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, with the appearance of swelling and abdominal cramps.
Sorbitol is transformed, in the human organism, into monosaccharides (especially fructose) without the intervention of insulin: for this reason it can therefore be present in the diet of diabetics.
Sorbitol can be synthesized in the laboratory for glucose reduction with sodium tetrahydroborate, while it is industrially reduced by hydrogenation at high pressure or electrochemically.
Moreover, through the sorbitol dehydration reaction, with the consequent formation of a furanosic ring, we produce the sorbitan, composed of which we obtain a series of emulsifiers that find various uses, including foodstuffs.
Warning: The information reported is not medical advice and may not be accurate. The contents are for illustrative purposes only and do not replace medical advice.