If we have learnt anything over the past few years it’s this. Any product that declares its contents to be sugar-free should raise a sceptical eyebrow.
While it could be the delicious sugar substitute you have been looking for. It may also be a health trap as damaging as that of sugar. The best way forward is to empower yourself with knowledge about the good, the bad, and the ugly when it comes to sugar substitutes.
The Four Categories of Sugar Substitutes
Generally speaking you get four categories of sugar substitutes. Artificial sweeteners, sugar alcohols, novel sweeteners and natural sweeteners.
- Your artificial sweeteners are a health no-go. They have been linked to an increased risk of metabolic syndrome, type two diabetes, excessive weight gain and cardiovascular disease. Examples of these include aspartame, sucralose and saccharin. They are also often referred to as non-nutritive sweeteners.
- Sugar alcohols are a good option. They are not associated with any of the health risks of sugar or artificial sweeteners. Most sugar alcohols are low GI and, therefore, do not spike blood sugar or insulin. The only down side is that they do come with the possibility of digestive complications. Examples are maltitol, xylitiol and erythritol.
- Novel sweeteners are combinations of various types of sweeteners. Stevia is the most well known example. They are also a good option, as they are well tolerated by the body. It is important to note that not all Stevia is considered a novel sweetener. If you grow it in your back yard and use the leaves to sweeten foods then it is a natural sweetener.
- Your best bet will always be the natural sweeteners; these include honey, date sugar and fruit, to name a few.
What Is the Maltitol Revolution?
The maltitol revolution is an exciting trend that is starting to take hold of the health-food industry. Many sugar-free product manufacturers are turning to maltitol (a sugar alcohol) as a replacement for sugar. This is exciting for two reasons:
- There is a change in mind-set around defaulting to substituting sugar with artificial sweeteners. This means that you now have improved access to substitutes that don’t have the nasty health side effects of artificial sweeteners.
- Maltitol products taste amazing, whilst remaining far healthier for you. That’s right! Say goodbye to the days when quitting sugar meant eating sugar-free brownies that taste like cardboard. Now you can get everything from maltitol sweetened chocolate to gummy sweets. And they taste like the real deal. Quitting sugar has never been easier!
So How Healthy Is Maltitol?
While researchers indicate that maltitol is the sugar alcohol with the highest glycaemic index (36). They still considered it to be a low GI food. The only health concern is that maltitol can cause mild digestive complications. It is important to note that this only occurs in a percentage of people and is not severe. However, if you experience digestive complications you should abstain from eating maltitol.