Sometimes used as a sugar substitute, maltitol is a polyol or sugar substitute that is understood to be almost as sweet as conventional granulated sugar. Measured in a manner that is similar to sugar, it can be used in a number of recipes. The taste is almost identical to sugar, but has the advantage of supplying fewer calories.
There are several advantages that make maltitol worth consideration as a substitute for sugar. When used as an ingredient in baked goods, the sweetener helps to provide a pleasant taste. Its thickening qualities are similar to those of table sugar, making it ideal for the creation of a number of hard candies and chocolates. Because maltitol can aid in achieving a creamy texture, this sugar substitute is often used in creating ice cream that is lower in calories and less likely to trigger a spike in glucose levels.
In the way of health benefits, the lower caloric content can be helpful for persons who are trying to lose a few extra pounds. There is some evidence that the use of maltitol rather than sugar can help minimize the chances for the development of tooth decay. For people who control diabetes with the use of diet, sweets that are made with this sugar substitute make it possible to enjoy a small treat from time to time.
In spite of the benefits, there are several drawbacks to the use of maltitol. First, this sugar alcohol will not brown during cooking, which means that the sweetener does not work well in the creation of glazes for desserts that call for a browned crust of sugar. Second, there is some evidence that it causes gastric upset in a number of people. While the level of sweetness is roughly 90% that of table sugar, some consumers may tend to use excessive amounts, which will only exacerbate the opportunity for stomach problems.
There are a few commercial brands of maltitol available for home use. While not widely carried in supermarkets, these sweeteners are becoming more popular items. Specialty food shops are an excellent source, as are many high-end supermarket chains.