Is Maltitol The New High Fructose Corn Syrup?
Understanding the ingredients that you are looking at is essential when checking labels. We found one that surprised us and want to bring Maltitol to your attention. Maltitol is a sugar alcohol which is similar to sugar but has fewer calories. Sounds Great right? Well…. It also comes along with a mandatory disclaimer that it will cause a “mild” laxative effect. While Maltitol occurs naturally in chicory, the version used today is chemically produced from Corn Syrup. Though low in calories (3 per tablespoon) it has a high glycemic value of 53 so it is not recommended for Diabetics, though according to the manufacturer, Food and Beverage conglomerate – Cargill, it is safe if consumed in moderation. That said, a quick Google search will provide you with a number of warnings and potential side effects of Maltitol that the manufacturer does not reference; from nausea and cramping to rectal bleeding and diarrhea. According to a double blind study conducted by the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 8 out of 12 participants developed diarrhea when fed Maltitol as opposed to 3 out of 12 when fed table sugar.
Interestingly a number of Diabetic websites claim Maltitol is safe for diabetics because of its Low carb ratio (but it’s still a Carb) and “sugar free” labeling. Other sites will caution you that the high Glycemic index of Maltitol will spike insulin levels which diabetics need to avoid and which also initiate the feelings of hunger and can lead to more overeating. Maltitol is considered non-digestable (Wait why are we using it in anything we consume?) so it is considered safe for the teeth as it does not promote tooth decay.
Because it is a sugar alcohol it is not classified as “sugar” so it can be used to sweeten products that are advertised as “Sugar Free”. Maltitol is used in a huge range of sugar free sweets including: candy, cough drops, chewing gum, chocolate, ice cream, baked goods and supplements. It is also used in “low carb” breads and food items as well as in many of the Atkins diet products. It is also used as the coating on hard candy as well as in medicine, as a pill coating, and in personal care products like Moisturizers. Many of the Food products containing Maltitol, such as Pillsbury Sugar Free Moist supreme Cake mixes, prominently feature a warning: Disclaimer Text: Excess Consumption may cause a laxative effect (Due to Maltitol). Recently one of FIT’s Staff purchased a Cherry Pie from a local high end Natural Food store & Bakery and noticed it had a Maltitol warning disclaimer, a couple of hours after eating a small slice of the pie our staffer developed stomach cramps which lasted until mid day the next day and experienced nausea and rectal bleeding and upon reflection realized the only thing that could have caused it was the cherry pie.
At a time when many food and beverage manufacturers are removing High Fructose Corn Syrup from their products due to consumer demand, one has to question why other man-made artificial sweeteners made from corn including Maltitol and Fructose are appearing more frequently in the foods we consume. Could this just be a way of confusing consumers and hiding unhealthy ingredients in our food supply? Why would anyone purchase a food product that warns of side effects?
Truth in Labeling and a clear understanding of the ingredients you are looking at will help keep you and your family healthy, but perhaps a better solution is to avoid consuming anything with artificial or chemical ingredients, including Maltitol.