Glycolic acid is a colorless, odorless, crystalline substance that when combined with water is a highly effective cosmetic skin exfoliator and moisturizer. Derived from sugarcane, glycolic acid is a natural substance typically used for dermatological and industrial purposes. One benefit of glycolic acid in your diet is that it’s gluten free, which means that people with allergies and sensitivity to wheat products can use this ingredient as a sweetening substitute.
A common source of glycolic acid is sugarcane, according to the book Cosmetic Dermatology by Cheryl M. Burgess. Sugarcane is a type of tall grass native to temperate and tropical climates. The main uses of sugarcane are as refined sugar, molasses, rum and a type of syrup used as flavoring. The juice evaporated from cane is considered a healthy alternative to refined sugar because it is not processed to the same extent. Sugarcane may be used in cooking as sugar. It is also sold as milled cane sugar, dried cane juice and crystallized cane juice. In other countries it’s identified as unrefined sugar.
Sugar beets are a root plant harvested to produce sucrose for commercial sugar production. Popular in Germany, sugar beet syrup is used as a sandwich spread, sauce sweetener and added to cake and dessert recipes. Other cultures infuse rum with sugar beet sucrose. Sugar beets are also a good source of glycolic acid, according to Patientsguide.com. Boiling shredded beets for several hours, then pressing the mash until you’ve extracted a liquid resembling the consistency of honey, produces the syrup.
Unripe grapes, cantaloupes and pineapples contain glycolic acid, according to a report from Unionhairandskin.com. Interestingly, the glycolic acid extracted from fruit sources are used more for flavoring and preserving other foods rather than providing any dietetic benefit. One expert from the British Society of Gastroenterology indicates that consumption of pure glycolic acid can cause vomiting, gastritis and possibly even breathing problems.