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Advantages and disadvantages of using maltitol

Effects of using food sweeteners

The maltitol Is a food additive that provides a sweet taste like sugar, while containing significantly less dietary energy than sugar-based sweeteners, making it a low-calorie sweetener.

The artificial sweeteners they can be derived from the manufacture of plant extracts or processed by chemical synthesis. Sugar alcohols such as erythritol, xylitol, and sorbitol are derived from sugars.

Maltitol is produced through the hydrogenation of maltose, which is obtained from starch. It does not caramelize or blacken. The amount of sweetness it contains allows it to be used without the need to add other sweeteners.

What is maltitol?

The maltitol is a sugar alcohol used as a sugar substitute. It has 75-90% of the sweetness of sucrose and almost identical properties, except for darkening. It is used to replace table sugar because it is half of caloric, does not promote tooth decay and has a somewhat smaller effect on blood glucose.

In chemical terms, it is known as 4-O-α-glucopyranosyl-D-sorbitol.

Maltitol Overview

  • Sweetener with sweet and clean flavor, with intensity similar to that of sucrose.
  • Reduced calorie sweetener (2.1 kcal per gram).
  • Useful for preparing low-calorie, low-fat, sugar-free meals.
  • Especially interesting in the manufacture of chocolate without sucrose.
  • It can be interesting for people suffering from diabetes because it does not increase blood insulin levels.
  • It does not favor the formation of caries.

Properties of maltitol

Here are the most common properties of this sugar substitute:

  • We can find it in corn and wheat, it is a derivative of maltose.
  • Its melting point is at 145 °C.
  • Its sweetness is very similar to sugar.
  • It has certain sensory attributes that sucrose produces.
  • Polyol is an effective substitute for sugar.
  • It is the perfect ally for diets.
  • Maltitol stimulates intestinal transit.

Applications and uses of maltitol

Maltitol is used in the elaboration of different products in which you want decrease the amount of sugar, such as chewing gum, ice cream, candies and other sweets. In addition, it is a key ingredient in the manufacture of yogurts and flavored milks to reduce their caloric content as a hydrocolloid stabilizing sweetener.

It is also used as a substitute for sucrose in the chocolate production without modifying its texture. It has the advantage that they do not participate in the browning of the product when subjected to heat treatments, so the appearance of the product when subjected to high temperatures does not change.

Maltitol syrup

Maltitol syrup is a sugar-free, low-calorie, non-cariogenic bulk sweetener (tooth decay).

Visual appearance

  • It is a clear, colorless and slightly sweet syrup.

Manufacturing process

  • It is obtained by hydrogenation of maltose syrup, derived from the hydrolysis of starch.

Main features

  • Maltitol content: Available in different grades covering the range between 55 and 75% of the dry base.
  • Dry substance: Available in different grades covering the range between 75 and 85%.
  • Sorbitol content: < 8% dry matter
  • Reducing sugars: < 0.3% dry matter

Technological properties

  • It is a sweetener for sugar substitution and a cost-effective alternative to intense sweeteners.
  • Sweetening power close to that of sugar, excellent taste profile, without aftertaste, low cooling effect.
  • Sugars and calorie reduction
  • Viscosity similar to that of sucrose
  • High stability
  • Humidity control

Maltitol sweeteners are sugar substitutes. Also called polyol and have properties very similar to those of sugar, but with fewer calories. To the igual that other sugar alcohols (xylitol, mannitol, etc.) has a slightly laxative effect and it is not recommended to consume more than 50 grs. a day.

It has a glycemic index higher than most other sugar alcohols (sweeteners) and therefore not as useful for diabetics, although it is safe if consumed in moderation.

Health Benefits of Maltitol

Maltitol allows to obtain a sweetness that approximates the taste of sugar, but with fewer calories.

Another benefit is that it helps prevent tooth decay. This is one of the reasons why they are sometimes used in chewing gum, mouthwash and toothpaste.

  • Helps prevent the formation of cavities.
  • It contains fewer calories compared to other sweeteners.
  • Reduces increased blood glucose and insulin levels.
  • Helps in weight loss.
  • It is useful for the production of chocolate without sucrose/reduced in calories.

There are several scientific studies associated with the maltitol response in people with type 2 diabetes. Evidence has been found that the glycemic response it is noticeably lower than that of sugar, so its consumption is indicated for this type of people.  However, as we have mentioned before, its glycemic index is slightly higher than that of other sweeteners.

Other sugar substitutes

Possible side effects

Maltitol in normal doses does not usually cause problems, but consumption in high doses may have a laxative effect.

Next, we indicate what are the main side effects of the abuse of its consumption:

  • Stomach pain.
  • Abdominal pain.
  • Gases and flatulence.
  • Weight gain.
  • Allergic reaction.
  • Consuming high doses of sugar alcohols such as maltitol can cause weight gain and affect blood sugar levels.
  • Sugar alcohols are not calorie-free, as they have 2.6 calories per gram.
  • People with type 1 diabetes may see an increase in blood sugar levels if they consume sugar alcohols in uncontrolled amounts.
  • Some people may experience allergic reaction to maltitol. Signs and symptoms of an allergic reaction include bumps on the skin, rash, swelling of the mouth and hands, breathing difficulties, dizziness, vomiting, chest tightness, etc.

It is advised that people suffering from digestive disorders as irritable bowel syndrome and Crohn’s disease avoid the consumption of maltitol. It is known to cause laxative effects that can aggravate digestive disorders.

Are sweeteners safe in pregnancy?

Using sweeteners during pregnancy is recommended, as long as they are not abused. There are women with carbohydrate intolerance such as those suffering from gestational diabetes, diabetes mellitus or insulin resistance who need the use of nutritious sweeteners.

The use of sweeteners with maltitol is considered safe to be consumed during the gestational process, as long as it is consumed in moderation and not abused because it tends to contribute to weight gain.

Maltitol and Cancer

There is a general public opinion that affects all sweeteners, associated with medium and long-term problems and related to cancer. The National Cancer Institute prepared a series of investigations to try to demystify and draw rational conclusions in this regard.

The initial idea of sweeteners and cancer comes when the response of cyclamate and saccharin in mice was studied, producing bladder cancer. However, subsequent studies of carcinogenicity in all sweeteners have not confirmed any relationship in humans and there is scientific evidence that there is an association between cancer in humans and these sweeteners, including maltitol.


About Andrew Parkinson

Andrew Parkinson is a highly accomplished pharmacist with a passion for improving healthcare. With a wealth of experience in both community and clinical pharmacy settings, he's known for his dedication to patient well-being. Mr. Parkinson actively engages in medication management, offering personalized solutions and promoting better health outcomes. He has also played a pivotal role in educating patients on proper medication usage and potential interactions. Andrew's commitment to advancing the field of pharmacy and ensuring safe and effective drug therapies has garnered him recognition as a trusted and invaluable healthcare professional, making a positive impact on countless lives.

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