Sunday, June 11, 2006

Are There Different Grades Of Maltitol?

One of my readers e-mailed me this week about something I was not aware of regarding the sugar alcohol known as maltitol. I have tried to warn people about the gastric distress caused by maltitol and have even been asked by an Iranian factory if I could sell them a ton of the stuff. Jeepers creepers!

Here's what my reader wrote in his e-mail:

Hi Jimmy,

In regards to malitol, I was in my local COSTCO store recently and at one of the free sample booths they had a low-carb chocolate bar from a company that uses a high-quality version of maltitol made from wheat. Yes, I said wheat. The salesman said it does NOT produce the same negative side effects as the maltitol that is made from corn which is much cheaper to make.

Was this just some desperate sales pitch? Perhaps, I don't know. But I learned something new and now know there are different grades and sources of malitol. I thought this information may be helpful to others, and so I thought I would send it along to you.

Thanks for your blog.

Hmmm, I've never heard anything about this. Different grades of maltitol, really? So how is the consumer supposed to distinguish the crappy (literally!) products sweetened with the cheaper brands of maltitol from the supposedly better ones?

As for me, I'll be sticking with alternative sweeteners that do not cause those terrible stomach issues in most people, including erithyritol, Splenda, and ACE-K. But has anyone else come across what my reader has about different levels of maltitol?

Is it like pumping regular, premium and super unleaded gasoline for my car? :D

6-16-2006 UPDATE: A reader named Galen P. Zink, who is an expert in food ingredients, wanted to share his insights regarding my question about the varying levels of maltitol with you. Here's what he wrote in an e-mail to me:

"Maltitol is a single molecule with the molecular formula of C12H24O11, just like white sugar is a single molecule of sucrose with the molecular formula of C12H22O11. If the only sugar alcohol in the product is maltitol, the label will show the number of grams of sugar alcohol - all of these are maltitol - so it is easy to actually know how much maltitol is in a product.

Yes, there are various grades of maltitol, but the grades only affect purity and perhaps allergen issue for people who are incredibly sensitive. For example, maltitol syrup is basically maltitol and water combined to make a syrup. But look at the label - the grams of maltitol are what counts. The more maltitol, the bigger an impact (gastric and blood sugar) it will have on your body.

Some grades of maltitol contain a certain level of other things (particularly maltose, a high glycemic sugar), but once again, look at the label, as the number of grams of maltitol in the product is what matters. And if there's a substantial level of maltose in the product somehow, it will show up under the sugar category on the nutrition label.

Maltitol is an easy fix for manufacturers because it is very close to sugar in terms of properties and it even considered "natural" so it ends up in health food products. It is almost "drop in" perfect replacement for sugar in almost any recipe. Unfortunately, it is one of the worst sugar substitutes on the planet. It causes extensive gastric distress in many people, yet it also impacts blood sugar substantially.

In chocolate for example, I have studies showing maltitol has the same or higher level of blood sugar impact as pure white sugar! If you are trying to follow a low-carb diet, avoid maltitol at all costs! It is interesting to note, some people tolerate maltitol very well - but that generally means they are digesting it very effectively, meaning it is being absorbed almost like sugar, while those who experience extreme gastric distress are digesting it much more poorly and are likely having a lower level of blood sugar response. But since neither sky high blood sugar nor gastric distress are desirable, maltitol just shouldn't be part of your diet."

Solidifies my position to avoid maltitol at all costs! THANKS for sharing your wisdom, Galen!


Blogger Jason said...

Hello, as a low carb proprietor, i've never heard of any different grades of maltitol.Heres a Sugar Alcohol or Polyols breakdown... Theres the GOOD, xylitol, erythritol, the BAD, sorbitol, lactitol and then the UGLY, maltitol. Hope that helps a smelly situation.

6/11/2006 9:12 PM  
Blogger theredhead2 said...

Oh, I fell for that pitch in my Costco a few months ago. Believe me, they cause gas just as bad as anything else with malitol. Too bad, but definitely not worth it!

6/11/2006 10:14 PM  
Blogger Newbirth said...

Is that why companies use malitol - it's cheap because corn is subsidized?

6/12/2006 12:17 AM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home