Sugar has long been a staple in human diets, but with the rise of health-conscious individuals, people have started to look for healthier alternatives to sugary treats. One of the most popular sugar substitutes is maltitol. Maltitol is a sugar alcohol that can be found in many foods and drinks designed for people with diabetes, low-carb diets, or anyone looking to cut their sugar intake. If you’re wondering what maltitol is and how it can benefit your health, then keep reading to find out.
What is Maltitol?
Maltitol is a sugar alcohol, which is a type of carbohydrate that is commonly used as a sugar substitute. It is a white crystalline powder that looks and tastes like sugar, but with fewer calories and a lower glycemic index. Because of its sugar-like taste, maltitol is often used in a variety of processed food products, such as baked goods, candies, and sugar-free chewing gum.
It was first discovered in the 1960s and is derived from either corn or wheat starch. It is made through the hydrogenation of maltose, which is a sugar that is derived from malted grains like barley. Maltitol is a polyol, which means it has multiple hydroxyl groups that form a molecular structure that is similar to sugar.
The Benefits of Maltitol
Low in Calories
One of the biggest benefits of maltitol is that it is low in calories. It contains about 2.1 calories per gram, which is almost half of the 4 calories per gram that regular sugar contains. This makes it a great option for people who are on a diet or watching their calorie intake.
Low Glycemic Index
The glycemic index refers to how quickly a carbohydrate source raises blood sugar levels. Some sweeteners, like regular sugar, have a high glycemic index, which means they can cause blood sugar spikes. Maltitol, on the other hand, has a lower glycemic index, which means it raises blood sugar levels more slowly than sugar.
No Harmful Effects on Teeth
Maltitol has no harmful effects on teeth because it cannot be metabolized by oral bacteria. This means that it does not promote tooth decay, unlike regular sugar.
The Drawbacks of Maltitol
Like most sugar alcohols, maltitol can cause digestive issues such as bloating, gas, and diarrhea, especially when consumed in large quantities or by people who are sensitive to sugar alcohols. If you’re new to consuming sugar alcohols, it’s recommended that you start with a small amount to see how your body reacts to it.
No Nutritional Value
Maltitol has no nutritional value, which means that it offers no benefits to the body in terms of vitamins, minerals, or other essential nutrients. It is considered to be an empty calorie sweetener.
Uses of Maltitol
Maltitol is used as a sugar substitute in a variety of food products, including baked goods, confectionery items, and chewing gum. It is also used in pharmaceutical products to improve the taste of medication and to make it easier to swallow. It is commonly used in products that are geared towards people with diabetes or anyone looking to reduce their sugar intake, as it has a low glycemic index and fewer calories than regular sugar.
Maltitol is a sugar alcohol that is commonly used as a sugar substitute in many food products. It has a similar taste and texture to sugar, but with fewer calories and a lower glycemic index. While it does have some benefits, such as being low in calories and not promoting tooth decay, it also has some drawbacks, such as causing digestive issues and having no nutritional value. Overall, maltitol can be a great option for people who are looking for a sugar substitute that won’t spike their blood sugar levels or lead to weight gain, but it’s important to consume it in moderation and be aware of its potential side effects.
Frequently Asked Questions
- What is maltitol?
Maltitol is a sugar alcohol that is commonly used as a sugar substitute in many food products.
- What is the glycemic index of maltitol?
Maltitol has a lower glycemic index than regular sugar, which means it raises blood sugar levels more slowly.
- What are the benefits of maltitol?
Benefits of maltitol include being low in calories, having a lower glycemic index than sugar, and not promoting tooth decay.
- What are the drawbacks of maltitol?
Drawbacks of maltitol include causing digestive issues and having no nutritional value.
- What foods contain maltitol?
Maltitol can be found in many processed food products such as baked goods, candies, and sugar-free chewing gum.
1. “Sugar Alcohols Fact Sheet.” International Food Information Council Foundation, 2021, https://foodinsight.org/sugar-alcohols-fact-sheet/.
2. “Maltitol.” PubChem, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 2021, pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/maltitol.
3. Castro, Ana Paula Badan, et al. “Maltitol: A Review of Its Characteristics, Properties, and Applications in Food.” Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, vol. 56, no. 13, 2016, pp. 2099–2110., doi:10.1080/10408398.2013.865183.