What is polyglycitol syrup?
Polyglycitol syrup is a sugar alcohol derived from corn and used as a sweetener. The main polyglycitols found in these syrups are maltitol and sorbitol. Polyglycitol syrups are often used as sugar substitutes in foods like ice cream, baked goods, candy, etc. They provide a sweet taste with fewer calories than sugar and do not promote tooth decay.
Is polyglycitol syrup approved for use?
Yes, polyglycitol syrups are considered safe for consumption and are approved for use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as well as other major health organizations. The ingredients – sorbitol and maltitol – are on the FDA’s “generally recognized as safe” (GRAS) list. Polyglycitol syrups have met the FDA’s strict standards for food additives.
What are the benefits of polyglycitol syrup?
There are several potential benefits associated with using polyglycitol syrup instead of regular sugar:
– Fewer calories – Polyglycitol syrups are lower in calories than sucrose sugar. They provide about 2.6 calories per gram compared to 4 calories per gram for sugar. This allows for calorie reduction in foods.
– Does not promote tooth decay – Bacteria in the mouth do not metabolize polyglycitols well. So they do not produce the same acids that degrade tooth enamel as when sugar is consumed. Polyglycitol syrups will not contribute to dental caries.
– Glycemic control – Polyglycitols elicit a very minimal rise in blood glucose levels compared to regular sugar. This makes them a good sugar substitute for people with diabetes.
– Prebiotic effects – Some research indicates polyglycitols may support digestive health by promoting beneficial gut bacteria. The FDA allows labeling them as dietary fibers.
Is polyglycitol syrup safe for everyone?
Polyglycitol syrups are considered safe for the general population when consumed in moderation. However, there are a few groups that should exercise caution with polyglycitols:
– Those with IBS or sensitivities to FODMAPs – Polyglycitols are poorly absorbed in the small intestine, resulting in potential gas, bloating, and diarrhea when large amounts are consumed. Those with IBS or who are sensitive to FODMAPs may not tolerate polyglycitols well.
– People with diabetes – Polyglycitols elicited reduced glycemic and insulinemic responses compared to sugar in people with and without diabetes. However, portion size should still be monitored by those with diabetes.
– Pregnant women – High intakes of polyglycitols have been associated with issues in pregnancy in animal studies. While similar effects have not been shown in humans, pregnant women may want to limit polyglycitol intake until more research is available.
– Children – Polyglycitol syrups may have laxative effects in children if consumed in large amounts. Intake should be moderate.
What potential side effects could polyglycitol syrup produce?
When consumed in normal amounts, polyglycitol syrups are well tolerated by most people. However, some potential side effects may occur if large amounts are consumed:
– Digestive issues – Since they are poorly absorbed, polyglycitols can have laxative effects in some individuals when consumed excessively. This may lead to gas, bloating, cramps, and diarrhea. Generally, consuming over 50 grams per day may produce these effects.
– Allergic reactions – There are rare reports of allergic reactions to products containing polyglycitols, likely to contaminants. Symptoms may include hives, swelling, and anaphylaxis. But allergies are uncommon.
– Dental problems – Frequent consumption of polyglycitol syrups can allow bacteria to accumulate on teeth since the bacteria cannot metabolize polyglycitols. This could increase the risk for cavities and other dental issues. Proper dental hygiene helps mitigate this risk.
– Drug interactions – Polyglycitols may alter absorption of certain medications if taken at the same time. Individuals on medications should consult their physician before regular use of polyglycitols.
– Kidney stones – There are a few case reports of kidney or bladder stones associated with excessive sorbitol intake (over 40 grams per day). But this appears to be rare.
What is a safe intake level for polyglycitol syrup?
Most major health agencies have established an acceptable daily intake (ADI) for polyglycitols:
– The Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) set an ADI for sorbitol of up to 50 mg/kg body weight per day.
– The EFSA has established an ADI for sorbitol of up to 40 mg/kg body weight per day.
– For maltitol, JECFA and EFSA have set an ADI of up to 40 mg/kg body weight per day.
The typical concentration of polyglycitols in foods ranges from 10-30%. This means a 150 pound (68 kg) person could safely consume up to 136-272 grams of a polyglycitol syrup daily, though far lower intakes are more typical. Most individuals consume less than 30 grams per day on average.
As a rule of thumb, restricting polyglycitol syrup intake to no more than 20-30 grams per sitting is recommended to avoid digestive side effects. Moderating total daily intake to less than 50 grams per day is also advised.
Does cooking/baking reduce polyglycitol content?
No, cooking or baking preparations do not significantly alter the polyglycitol content in foods sweetened with polyglycitol syrups. Polyglycitols are stable under normal cooking temperatures and conditions.
For example, a study found that muffins sweetened with maltitol syrup retained over 96% of the original maltitol content after baking at 350°F (176°C) for 25 minutes. Similar results would be expected for other polyglycitol syrups like sorbitol syrup.
So the concentration of polyglycitols remains largely unchanged after cooking or baking. The carbohydrate profile is not altered. Therefore, cooked or baked goods can be counted as containing the same polyglycitol content as listed on the original product nutrition facts panel.
Should polyglycitol syrup be consumed on a ketogenic diet?
Most polyglycitol syrups would be considered unsuitable for a well-formulated ketogenic diet.
Ketogenic or “keto” diets involve restricting carbohydrate intake to under 50 grams per day in order to achieve ketosis, a metabolic state where the body burns fats and ketones rather than glucose as its primary fuel source.
While polyglycitols are lower in digestible carbs than sugar, they can still be partially absorbed and provide 2-3 calories per gram. Polyglycitol syrups would need to be counted as a carb source and tightly restricted on a ketogenic diet to avoid interfering with ketosis.
There are some exceptions that may work for keto diets:
– Erythritol – A zero-calorie polyol that does not impact blood glucose or ketosis. But it’s only about 60-80% as sweet as sugar.
– Stevia – Also zero calories and does not influence ketosis. But may provide a slight bitter aftertaste.
– Inulin fiber syrup – May be made with inulin from chicory root. Contains minimal digestible carbs.
Overall, for most following a keto diet, keeping polyglycitol syrup intake to less than 10 grams per day, counting it as part of total carbs is advised. Non-caloric sweeteners are likely a better choice.
Polyglycitol syrups made from maltitol and sorbitol have comparable taste to sugar with fewer calories and negligible effects on blood sugar. When consumed in moderation, they appear safe for most people.
Potential side effects like digestive issues may occur if intake becomes excessive, generally over 50 grams per day. Those with IBS or diabetes should exercise particular caution with portion sizes of polyglycitols.
Cooking and baking does not alter the polyglycitol content of foods. While they can work when limited on a keto diet, alternative sweeteners may be better options. As with any sweetener, polyglycitol syrup is best used judiciously as part of an overall healthy diet. But for those looking to reduce sugar intake, polyglycitol syrups appear to be a safe alternative.
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