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I was eating a sugar-free "Polo mint" the other day and the question popped into my mind "So, if this isn't sugar.... what is it??"

I understand they use an artificial sweetener (Sorbitol), and Magnesium Stearate as a lubricant, but these don't explain what is the BULK of the sweet actually made from?

A Google session came up with a lot of people asking this question (about sugar free sweets in general) but no solid (!) answers.

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It appears that he main ingredients of sugar free Polo Mints are:

  • Sorbitol - a non-sugar (technically a sugar alcohol) sweetener with less calories per gram than sucrose, about 2.6 kilo-calories per gram compared to sugar's 3.9. E420 in Europe.

  • Magnesium stearate - this appears to not be metabolizable. E470b in Europe.

  • Mint oils

I did a quick check of UK labeling laws, and it appears all ingredients must be listed.

So the answer is: the sugar substitute itself, sorbitol provides some of the bulk of the candy, with most of the rest being the magnesium stearate.

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I got similar information to yourself - however i get the impression that the Magnesium Stearate is not there to provide bulk, as the Wikipedia article states: "Magnesium stearate is often used as a anti-adherent[3] in the manufacture of medical tablets, capsules and powders.[4] In this regard, the substance is also useful, because it has lubricating properties, preventing ingredients from sticking to manufacturing equipment during the compression of chemical powders into solid tablets; magnesium stearate is the most commonly used lubricant for tablets." – Digital Lightcraft Oct 7 '13 at 15:17
I didn't run nutritional analysis numbers, but since the only calorific ingredient in them is the sorbitol, you could get a rough estimate. It is likely to be the main ingredient by volume. However, UK labeling, like US labelling, only requires that ingredients be listed in decreasing order of weight, so an absolute ratio was not available easily. Note that normal hard candy is essentially just sugar; there is little reason to suspect these sugar free ones are not primarily sorbitol. – SAJ14SAJ Oct 7 '13 at 15:29

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