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Healthy Diet Plans >>  Sweeteners >>  Natural Sugar Substitutes >>  Glycerol


What is glycerol?

Glycerol is a chemical compound with the formula HOCH2CH(OH)CH2OH and is sweet tasting sugar alcohol with three hydrophilic alcoholic hydroxyl groups. Glycerol is also known as glycerin by commercial products and is widely distributed in nature in the form of esters known as glycerides. Since glycerol forms the backbone of a triglyceride molecule it is a by product obtained from fats and oils in the process of saponification or transesterification. It is a sweet, syrupy, colorless or yellow liquid and is used as a sweetener, solvent, antifreeze and plasticizer. It is also used in the manufacture of liquid soaps, dynamite, cosmetics, ink and lubricants.

In medical and pharmaceutical preparations glycerol is used to improve smoothness, lubrication and as humectant. Glycerol is used with the motive of food production for many foods and beverages. Its unique properties like sweetener, humectant and solvent may help to preserve foods. It is used as a flavoring agent (such as vanilla), softening agent (for candies, cakes, meats and cheese), thickening agent, emulsifier and in manufacture of polyglycerol esters. Glycerol is often used in baked products because of its moisturizing properties as it prevents crystallization when added in candies and icings.
Approximately glycerol is 60% as sweet as sucrose and serves 27 calories per teaspoon. It almost serves the same energy as sucrose but it does not raise blood sugar levels nor does it serves as a feed for the bacteria in oral cavity. Thus it is tooth friendly and does not cause plaque or dental cavities. Glycerol is used as a solvent, substitute to alcohol to create a therapeutic herbal extraction that is approximately 30% less absorbed by the body. Glycerol is also used as an ingredient in laxatives in the form of liquid enema (it induces hyperosmotic effect by irritating the bowel), cough syrups, elixirs and expectorants. Glycerol is also used in personal care products like tooth paste, shaving creams, hair care products, skin care products and soaps. Soap with glycerol is specially used by people with sensitive skin as it has moisturizing properties and prevents skin dryness. It is also possible to make glycerol soap at home.

Glycerol is also known as E number E422 as a food addictive. It should not be consumed in concentrated or undiluted form as in that form it tends to draw water from the body tissues and may cause gastric distress and blistering in the mouth. Glycerol these days is increasingly used in feeding animals.
Submitted on January 16, 2014