The Truth about Maltitol
This lens explores the popular sugar substitute Maltitol. We'll discuss what Maltitol is, where it comes from, it's uses, health benefits, and even debunk some common misconceptions. Feel free to contribute by adding your thoughts and opinions at the bottom of this lens.
What is Maltitol? - What is it, where does it come from, and what is it used for?
Maltitol is a sugar substitute that is almost as sweet as sugar but with half the calories and carbs. Maltitol belongs to a family of sweeteners called Polyols. Polyols are prebiotics that naturally occur in berries, fruits, and vegetables. Prebiotics are not yet fully understood by scientists, but they are being researched for their value to improve gastro-intestinal health.
Polyols are also commonly known as sugar alcohols. Maltitol is called a sugar alcohol because it's molecule resembles that of alcohol-- However, there is no ethanol (alcohol) or sugar present.
Maltitol is derived from the hydrogenation of maltose, which comes from starch. Maltitol is most commonly derived from Corn but can also be derived from wheat.
Maltitol is mainly used as an alternative sweetener or sugar substitute and is 75% - 90% as sweet as sugar. It's taste is intensely similar to sugar but with half the calories. This makes maltitol a great substitute for individuals who are trying to lose weight by reducing calories. Maltitol also makes a great substitute for diabetics due to its low glycemic index (36).
Manufacturers of low calorie and diabetic safe foods use maltitol in chocolates, candies, baked goods and chewing gum. Because it helps making a creamy texture, Maltitol can also help in the reduction of fat for some recipes. A prime example for that is calorie reduced ice cream.
Maltitol Benefits - What are the advantages and health benefits to using Maltitol
For Weight Loss
One of the main benefits of maltitol is that its 75% - 90% as sweet as sugar but contains just half the calories of sugar. This makes maltitol and ideal sugar substitute for someone who is losing weight or living a low carb life style. In fact, Jorge Cruise, in his new book, , recommends using products containing Maltitol along with other substitute low carb sweeteners. The Belly Fat Cure
Maltitol also has a glycemic index of 32, which is about half that of table sugar (Glycemic Index 60). The glycemic index is a measure of how fast a substance raises the blood sugar, an important factor for diabetics. Many diabetics use products sweetened with maltitol as a way to enjoy sweets without the subsequent rise in blood sugar that occurs when they eat foods containing sugar.
For Healthy Teeth
Maltitol can also help one avoid tooth decay. Chewing gum that is sweetened with Maltitol keeps the mouth's pH below 5.7, therefore it does not produce the harmful acids that attack tooth enamel as regular sugar does. The American Dental association recognizes that Maltitol and other sugar substitutes are beneficial in the avoidance of tooth decay, as has the FDA, which approves the use of labeling that bears the term "does not promote tooth decay" on products sweetened with maltitol.
Maltitol's lower glycemic index and fewer calories per gram, as well as its ability to help reduce cavities, makes it a perfect choice for individuals trying to control their weight, blood sugar or both.
Maltitol Side Effects
Is Maltitol safe and what are it's side effects?
When consumed in excess, products that contain Maltitol have been reported to cause intestinal discomfort, gas, and a laxative effect. The key here is excess. A small portion of individuals experience gas and bloating after eating products sweetened with maltitol, and those who eat very large quantities may experience diarrhea. The FDA recommends a daily limit of 100 grams. This is the equivalent of about four full-size nutritional bars. So if you plan on eating a whole box of nutritional bars or chocolates made with Maltitol, you may have some issues.
However, these side effects are not limited to Maltitol. Almost all fruits and many foods you consume everyday will have a laxative effect if enjoyed in too large quantities. Pears, vanilla, bananas and many other foods will impact your digestion in similar ways.]
The FDA has listed Maltitol on the generally recognized as safe (GRAS) list.
Many studies in both humans and animals have shown positive results with regards to maltitol's safety as a food additive. In addition, The JECFA (Joint Food and Agriculture Organization/World Health Organization Expert Committee on Food Additives) has given Maltitol its highest safety rating, and has stated that no limits need be placed on the use of maltitol.
Maltitol is safe, however, as with everything... consume it in moderation.
Maltitol & Diabetes
Is Maltitol safe for diabetics?
Generally speaking, products made with Maltitol are diabetic friendly. However, it's wise to consult your physician before eating anything new or anything you're not familiar with.
Maltitol has a lower glycemic index than sugar and is more slowly absorbed than sugar, so that a rise in blood sugar and the related insulin response is decreased. This allows diabetics to enjoy a wider variety of maltitol sweetened treats than they might otherwise be allowed.
Given that the total number of diabetics is expected to rise from 171 million in 2000 to 366 million in 2030 (Diabetes Care, 2004), maltitol can be a valuable tool in the fight against this global health problem. Maltitol's lower glycemic index and fewer calories per gram, makes it an ideal choice for individuals trying to control or reduce their blood sugar.
Maltitol & Gluten
Does Maltitol contain gluten and is it considered gluten free by FDA standards?
As some maltitol is derived from wheat, people frequently ask if this Maltitol is gluten free. Typically, maltitol derived from wheat goes through a process where the gluten is washed out with starch making it by FDA standards "gluten free."
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We know this subject is somewhat controversial and depending on who you talk to you'll get varied information. We'd like to invite both those who share our views and those who disagree with our assessment of Maltitol to leave your thoughts below.