Sugar with half the calories
What is Isomalt?
Isomalt is described as a sugar replacer by the company that first engineered it in Germany. It is a sugar alcohol made from beets. It is a chemical bonding of two independent disaccharides with a crystalline structure. Its official molecular formula is C12H24O11. Isomalt is considered artificial even if it is extracted from a natural source because this complex compound is extensively chemically manipulated.
Characteristics and Uses
Isomalt is predominantly used in products that are boiled baked or subjected to high temperatures. Extreme heat does not degrade it and it does not lose its sweetness. It also has poor water absorption that is why it does not become sticky, a perfect characteristic for manufacturing of hard candy.
Isomalt extends the shelf life of food products and is widely used as a food preservative. It enhances flavor transfer in foods and dissolves slowly that is why candies with Isomalt retains flavor longer. It is widely used as a sweetener for flavored candies, coffee and chocolate.
The sweet compound is also used along with intense artificial sweeteners which masks the bitter aftertaste that come with artificial sweeteners. While the sweeteners give the flavor, it is Isomalt that gives out the texture.
Our Bodies and Isomalt
Like all polyols, (non-sugar carbohydrate), it is a low digestible carbohydrate, our bodies treat it not as a carbohydrate but as a dietary fiber. It only has half the caloric value of sucrose and it does not cause tooth decay. This is because oral bacteria cannot easily convert it to acids that cause decay nor can oral bacteria convert it to polyglucan which is what dental plaques are made of.
About thirty grams (30g) of Isomalt taken daily apparently increases the good bacteria called bifidobacteria in the large intestines which explains its prebiotic effect. It also induces gut bacteria to work well, increasing the so called Short Chain Fatty Acids or SCFA which decreases acidity in the large intestine. This results in healthy epithelium (cells that line the walls of organs) in the in the large intestine.
Isomalt only has 2 calories per gram because intestinal enzymes cannot hydrolyze its more stable disaccharide bond. This means less of it is digested and absorbed into the blood. It is a sweetener with the rich taste and texture of table sugar without its health dangers.
Isomalt is very low glycemic and barely affects blood glucose or insulin levels. It is an additive that successfully provides low glycemic food products to consumers who are conscious of their health, who are trying to manage their glucose levels due to diabetes and those who are battling obesity or cardiovascular diseases by lowering sugar intake.