maltitol - sugar substitute

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Lanie G
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Date Joined Nov 2006
Total Posts : 6028
   Posted 1/3/2007 1:00 PM (GMT -7)   
Does anyone know the correct information about maltitol, the substitute sweetener in food like chocolate?  I got some dark chocolate sweetened with this for Christmas.  The package says it's sugar free and that diabetics will find the product "useful".  A serving has 19 g. carbohydrate (dietary fiber 6g, sugars 0g, maltitol 11g).  When I looked on the Web for information on this sugar alcohol, some articles said it did not affect blood sugar and some articles said that it did, with a high glycemic index close to sugar.  With contradictory information, I don't know which is accurate.  What does anyone know about this?  Thanks.
Lanie confused

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Date Joined Oct 2005
Total Posts : 534
   Posted 1/3/2007 3:52 PM (GMT -7)   


Sugar alcohols, also know as polyols, are ingredients used as sweeteners and bulking agents. They occur naturally in foods and come from plant products such as fruits and berries. As a sugar substitute, they provide fewer calories (about a half to one-third less calories) than regular sugar. This is because they are converted to glucose more slowly, require little or no insulin to be metabolized and don't cause sudden increases in blood sugar. This makes them popular for those of us with diabetes; however, their use is becoming more common by just about everyone.

So why are sugar alcohols used so often? Well, they make things that are marketed toward those of us that are diabetic taste better!  But, beware! There is often the misconception that all sugar alcohol-containing products are “free foods.” Some of these products may still contain significant amounts of carbohydrates. It's important to check the food label for the total carbohydrate contained in the product.

If a manufacturer uses the term “sugar free” or “no added sugar,” they must list the grams of sugar alcohols. If more than one sugar alcohol is used in a product, the “Nutrition Facts” panel will list the amount of sugar alcohol it contains under the total carbohydrate. If just one sugar alcohol is used, the label will list its specific name, for example, “mannitol” or “hydrogenated starch hydrolysates.”

Ok, let's look at the negatives associated with sugar alcohols. The most common side effect is the possibility of bloating and diarrhea when sugar alcohols are eaten in excessive amounts (trust me, I've been there). There is also some evidence that sugar alcohols, much like fructose (natural fruit sugar) in fruit and fruit juice can cause a “laxative effect.”

Weight gain has been seen when these products are overeaten. The American Diabetes Association claims that sugar alcohols are acceptable in a moderate amount but should not be eaten in excess. Some people with diabetes, especially Type I diabetics, have found that their blood sugars rise if sugar alcohols are eaten in uncontrolled amounts. Personally, I've found that if I've binged on ice cream with sugar alcohols it will in fact spike my blood sugar.

So, does this give you a definitive answer to your question.  No! it shouldn't affect your blood sugar; but YES! it can spike your blood sugar if you eat to much of it. LOL, how about that for a contradictory answer!!!

scool  Warren

Lanie G
Forum Moderator

Date Joined Nov 2006
Total Posts : 6028
   Posted 1/3/2007 9:04 PM (GMT -7)   

Whew.  Thanks for the data.  Two squares of this chocolate were tasty but did cause some elevation in the blood sugar count I believe and affect the -uh- digestion.  I suppose that different people react differently to different foods.  I also found that yellow split peas raise my count just like potatoes.  Thanks again for the insight.


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Date Joined Apr 2004
Total Posts : 6056
   Posted 1/3/2007 10:57 PM (GMT -7)   
I've found that the sugar free candies are good for my food plan because of their side effect of diarrhea. It's very self limiting to know that more than two or three is going to send me to the bathroom. If you over do you go pooh! tongue
~ Jeannie

"People are like stained glass windows: They sparkle and shine when the sun's out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is light within."

- Elizabeth Kubler-Ross

Regular Member

Date Joined Dec 2005
Total Posts : 230
   Posted 1/4/2007 10:36 AM (GMT -7)   

Once again, Warren has just about said it all and not left much more for the rest of us to chew over. (Sorry!)

All I'll add is that what I've read suggests that maltitol has 3/4 of the calories, 3/4 of the gycemic index and 3/4 of the sweetness of table sugar. Typically, manufacturers will simply add more sweetener until the 'sugar effect' is achieved, so a chocolate bar will come with the extra 1/4 added let's say. So the overall effect isn't going to be radically different. Aside from the other 'issues'!

I do love chocolate and so it upsets me to say maltitol doesn't seem to be the answer we're waiting for unfortunately. Unless, as Warren said, it's very limited consumption.

This is what brought it home to me - I once bought a wee bar of French dark chocolate free of sugar but with maltitol instead. Worth a try I thought. I had it with me on a day when I started to go hypo and in the absence of anything else, I ate half of it. When I tested my blood an hour later, everything was fine!


Lanie G
Forum Moderator

Date Joined Nov 2006
Total Posts : 6028
   Posted 1/4/2007 12:01 PM (GMT -7)   

Yes, it seems nothing is free.  That chocolate bar might as well have just plain sugar for everything it does for me.

Lanie  eyes

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