Maltitol… Beauty or Beast?

A question that we get almost every day at Amber Lyn is, “What is Maltitol?”

Maltitol is the sweetener that we use in Amber Lyn Chocolate confections and there seems to be a lot of energy on the subject, whether you’re a fan or a foe. Hopefully I can cut through the clutter and the rhetoric and paint an accurate picture of this alternative sweetener.

Maltitol is a natural plant-based sweetener that belongs to a family of sweeteners called polyols or sugar alcohols. Polyols are probable prebiotics that occur naturally in berries, fruits, vegetable and grains.  Prebiotics are not well understood but the consensus among scientists is that they can be beneficial in maintaining intestinal health.

Maltitol is called a sugar alcohol because its molecule resembles that of alcohol. (It contains no alcohol.) Maltitol is about 90% as sweet as sugar and has a glycemic index of 32-36, about half that of sugar.  It contains 2.1 calories per gram while sugar contains 4 calories per gram. Because sugar alcohols are absorbed slowly by the body, or not at all, they are useful for diabetics because they don’t cause a spike in blood sugar levels. They’re also great for those watching carbs for dieting reasons too.

In fact, Jorge Cruise, in his new book, The Belly Fat Cure, recommends using products containing Maltitol along with other substitute low carb sweeteners.  Maltitol does not cause cavities and JECFA (Joint Food and Agriculture Organization/World Health Organization) has given Maltitol its highest safety rating.

That might be a lot of pretty dry mumbo jumbo but what it means is that Maltitol is safe, effective and even beneficial. However, Maltitol is often criticized because of widespread reports of intestinal discomfort, bloating, gas and that it may have a laxative effect when eaten to excess. (Our products are required to carry that caveat.) It is true that a small percentage of individuals will experience digestive sensitivity to Maltitol, Xylitol, Manitol, Sorbitol, and other polyols.

We have less than 5% of customers who report such effects. The important thing here is not to eat to excess. The truth is that almost all fruits will have a laxative effect when we eat too much. Fresh cherries send me running every time I indulge. (No warning label required there.)

There is one other difference. The Maltitol we use at Amber Lyn is derived from wheat, not corn from which most other Maltitol is derived. Anecdotal evidence suggests a milder effect on the digestive system with Maltitol from wheat. However, even though its extracted from wheat it’s also gluten free.

The bottom line is that Maltitol makes a chocolate that is virtually indistinguishable from chocolate sweetened with sugar. It’s safe, tastes good, is low in carbs and is diabetic friendly. If you’re not one of the 5%, you can eat reasonable amounts of Maltitol sweetened chocolate with no negative side effects.

Make sure to visit our store for your next sugar free chocolate purchase.

– Sugar Free Chocolate Bars

– Sugar Free Truffles

– Sugar Free Chocolate Covered Almonds

– Sugar Free Gifts

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