What sweetener is used in Ricola sugar free cough drops?

Ricola is a popular brand of herbal cough drops and throat lozenges that are known for their refreshing flavors and soothing effects. In addition to their regular cough drops that contain sugar, Ricola also offers a line of sugar free cough drops for people who want to avoid sugar for dietary reasons.

Maltitol as a Sugar Substitute in Sugar Free Ricola Cough Drops

The primary sweetener used in Ricola sugar free cough drops is maltitol. Maltitol is a sugar alcohol (also known as a polyol) that is commonly used as a sugar substitute in sugar-free and reduced sugar foods and cough drops. It has a similar sweetness level as regular table sugar but contains fewer calories and does not spike blood sugar levels as much as regular sugar does.

Some key facts about maltitol as used in Ricola sugar free cough drops:

  • Maltitol has about 90% of the sweetness of regular sugar but with half the calories and carbohydrates.
  • It does not cause tooth decay like regular sugar.
  • It has a glycemic index of 36 compared to table sugar which has a GI of 65. This means it has less impact on blood sugar levels.
  • It adds sweetness, texture, and bulk to foods like sugar free cough drops without adding as many calories.
  • The FDA has approved it as a safe alternative sweetener.

In Ricola sugar free cough drops, maltitol fully replaces the sugar that is used in the regular formulations. It provides the familiar sweetness that Ricola cough drops are known for without the added sugar content.

Benefits of Using Maltitol in Sugar Free Cough Drops

There are several key benefits that make maltitol a good choice as the sweetener used in sugar free Ricola cough drops:

  • Low Calorie: Maltitol only contains 2.1 calories per gram compared to 4 calories per gram in sugar. This can help reduce overall calorie intake.
  • Does Not Promote Tooth Decay: Unlike sugar, maltitol does not cause cavities or tooth decay, making it safe for teeth.
  • Minimal Impact on Blood Sugar: The glycemic index of maltitol is significantly lower than regular sugar, meaning it does not spike blood glucose levels as much. This makes it safe for people with diabetes or blood sugar regulation issues.
  • Provides Sweet Taste: Maltitol replicates the sweet taste of sugar, allowing Ricola to offer sugar free cough drops with familiar, sweet flavors.
  • Texture and Bulking Properties: Maltitol provides the same texture, mouthfeel, and bulking properties as regular sugar in cough drop formulations.
  • Heat Stable: Maltitol holds up well to heat, allowing it to be used in processes involved in making cough drops without breaking down.
  • FDA Approved: The FDA recognizes maltitol as safe for use as a sweetener and sugar substitute in food products.

These beneficial properties make maltitol a smart choice for the primary sweetener used in Ricola sugar free cough drops and other sugar free confectionery products.

Other Sugar Alcohols Sometimes Added to Ricola Sugar Free Cough Drops

In addition to maltitol, Ricola sugar free cough drops may also contain small amounts of other sugar alcohols such as:

  • Xylitol
  • Sorbitol
  • Mannitol
  • Isomalt
  • Erythritol

These may be added as secondary sweeteners, bulking agents, or stabilizers. They have similar benefits as maltitol in terms of minimal calories and carbohydrates, lack of tooth decay, and reduced glycemic impact. Using small amounts of these other sugar alcohols in conjunction with the primary maltitol sweetener allows Ricola to balance sweetness, texture, and stabilization in their sugar free cough drop recipes.

Sugar Free Ricola Cough Drops Flavor Options

Ricola offers their sugar free cough drops in a variety of fan favorite flavors. Some of the sugar free flavors they produce include:

  • Sugar Free Lemon Mint
  • Sugar Free Honey Herb
  • Sugar Free Berry Mint
  • Sugar Free Mountain Herb
  • Sugar Free Menthol
  • Sugar Free Orange Mint

The sweetness in these flavored cough drops comes from the sugar alcohol sweeteners discussed above rather than regular sugar. This allows people who need to watch their sugar intake for health, dietary, or medical reasons to still enjoy Ricola’s tasty cough drops.

Nutrition Facts Comparison Between Regular and Sugar Free Ricola Cough Drops

Here is a nutritional comparison between regular Ricola cough drops and Ricola sugar free cough drops:

Regular Ricola Cough Drops (example is Regular Lemon Mint Per 1 Drop)

  • Calories: 25
  • Total Carbohydrates: 6g
  • Sugars: 4g

Ricola Sugar Free Cough Drops (example is Sugar Free Lemon Mint Per 1 Drop)

  • Calories: 2.5
  • Total Carbohydrates: 1g
  • Sugars: 0g

As you can see, the sugar free version contains significantly fewer calories and carbohydrates, and has no sugar content. The sweetness instead comes from sugar alcohols like maltitol.

Reasons People May Choose Sugar Free Ricola Cough Drops

There are several reasons why some people may deliberately choose Ricola sugar free cough drops rather than the regular, sugar-containing version:

  • Have diabetes or pre-diabetes and need to watch sugar intake
  • Following a keto, paleo, or other low carb diet
  • Want to limit calorie consumption
  • Concerned about cavities and tooth decay
  • Have sensitivities to ingredients like sugar or corn syrup
  • Need an occasional cough drop but don’t want a sugar boost

The availability of sugar free cough drops makes Ricola accessible to more people who need to carefully monitor sugar for health or dietary reasons. It allows them to still enjoy the soothing properties of Ricola without worrying about effects on blood sugar or tooth decay.

Downsides and Considerations When Choosing Sugar Free Cough Drops

While sugar free Ricola cough drops have benefits for many people, there are also some downsides and considerations to keep in mind:

  • Digestive Effects: Some sugar alcohols like maltitol may cause digestive issues like bloating, gas, or diarrhea in sensitive individuals if consumed in large amounts.
  • Glycemic Impact: Sugar alcohols have less impact on blood sugar than regular sugar but can still raise levels in some people.
  • Allergies: Those with rare allergies to ingredients like xylitol need to be aware.
  • Dosage: As with any cough drop, consumption should be limited to avoid gastrointestinal upset.
  • Dental Devices: Sugar free cough drops may still pose a risk for dislodging dental crowns or braces.
  • Taste Preference: Some people strongly prefer the taste of regular sugar over sugar substitutes.

While quite safe for most people, individuals should consider their own health status, diet, and preferences when choosing between regular and sugar free cough drops from Ricola.


In conclusion, the primary sweetener used in Ricola sugar free cough drops is maltitol. This sugar alcohol provides the sweet taste of sugar without some of the drawbacks like tooth decay and spikes in blood glucose. Ricola sugar free cough drops come in a variety of popular flavors that allow people who need to restrict sugar intake for health reasons to still enjoy their soothing properties and great taste.

While sugar free cough drops from Ricola offer benefits over regular sugar-containing versions for many people, they also come with some potential downsides to consider. Individuals should weigh their own specific health status, diet, risk factors, and personal preferences when deciding if sugar free Ricola cough drops are the right choice for them.

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