|Chemical structure of maltitol|
|Molecular mass||344.31 g/mol|
|Melting point||145 °C|
|Disclaimer and references|
Maltitol is a sugar alcohol (a polyol) used as a sugar substitute. It has 90% of the sweetness of sucrose (table sugar) and nearly identical properties, except for browning. It is used to replace table sugar because it has fewer calories, does not promote tooth decay and has a somewhat lesser effect on blood glucose. Unfortunately, maltitol is well known to cause gastric distress, particularly if consumed in great quantities. Chemically, maltitol is also known as 4-O-α-glucopyranosyl-D-sorbitol. Commercially, it is known under trade names such as Maltisorb and Maltisweet.
Production and uses
Commercially, maltitol is a disaccharide produced by Corn Products Specialty Ingredients (formerly SPI Polyols), Cargill, and Roquette, and Towa, among other companies. Maltitol is made by hydrogenation of maltose obtained from starch. Its high sweetness allows it to be used without being mixed with other sweeteners, and exhibits negligible cooling effect (negative heat of solution) in comparison with other sugar alcohols, and is very similar to the subtle cooling effect of sucrose. It is used especially in production of sweets - sugarless hard candies, chewing gum, chocolates, baked goods, and ice cream.
Maltitol does not brown and caramelize after liquifying by exposure to intense heat. It is not metabolized by oral bacteria, so it does not promote tooth decay. It is somewhat more slowly absorbed than sucrose which makes it somewhat more suitable for people with diabetes than sucrose. Its food energy value is 2.1 calories per gram (8.8 kJ/g); (sucrose is 4.0 cal/g (16.7 kJ/g).
Due to its slow absorption, excessive consumption can have laxative effect and sometimes can cause gas and/or bloating. It is very easy for food producers to use it in vast quantities, due to its similarity to sugar, so consumers often end up ingesting far more than they could most other sugar alcohols. This means that maltitol is particularly associated with gastric issues. However, other sugar alcohols are far more likely to cause gastric distress than maltitol when compared gram-for-gram.