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Maltitol: is it really better than using sugar?

Maltitol is a sugar alcohol derived from maltose, which is commonly found in corn or wheat. It is used in different types of sugar free (hard) candy and candy bars, and has been approved for use in food products, in both the United States and Europe. But can it really be called "sugar free"? If we take a closer look at the specs of this sweetener, we quickly discover that it might not be as healthy as we first thought.

 

Despite being considered a bit less sweet than sugar (about 75-90% compared to sucrose), maltitol contains less carbohydrates, and about 25% less calories. 

Don't get excited though, because the differences are not as big as the sweetener business would like you to believe. The sweetener scores a doubtful 52 on the glycemic index chart. This is in fact moderately high, and certainly higher than other polyols such as erythritol and xylitol

This makes it far from the ideal choice for diabetics, so remember to always be mindful of products claiming to be sugar free, and be on the lookout for maltitol's ingredient code, E965. While it is true that this sweetener is good for your teeth because it inhibits the formation of bacteria, it should be noted that other sugar alcohols share this characteristic while containing less calories and boasting a lower GI.

maltitolCompared to other polyols, an higher sensitivity has been reported when it comes to the known issue of gastrointestinal discomfort, bloating and cramps. In more severe cases, it may cause diarrhea. These side effects can be attributed to its slow absorption rate. Because of the high number of products on the market containing this ingredient, it's easy to unknowingly surpass the suggested daily intake of 100 grams per day

So, if you add it all up, you'll notice that you'll need a larger amount of maltitol to compensate for the lack of sweetness, which in turn increases the risk of discomfort, and adds to the carb and calorie count. Can you see where I'm going with this?

 

The main lesson to be learned here is this: although it is probably healthier than sugar, don't expect any miracles from this sweetener.

 

It may be used to replace sucrose in a number of sugar free candy recipes because just like sugar, it has the ability to form a syrup, although it doesn't caramelize. So unless you're making hard candy, I would suggest you stick to the stevia sweetener instead, which will allow you to use a smaller amount of sweetener, with no risk of extra calories or a high glycemic index.




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