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What is isomaltulose?

Isomaltulose, also called palatinose, is a simple carbohydrate, a disaccharide, which is, like sucrose, composed of glucose and fructose, but with a stronger alpha-1,6 glycosidic bond between them, which makes it slowly digestible [1].

Nutrition Facts for Isomaltulose

  • Calories per gram = ~4 [1]
  • Glycemic index = 32-37 [7-p.9], which makes it a slow carb
  • Net carbohydrates = 100%
  • Sweetness, relative to sucrose = 42% [1]

Isomaltulose Function

Isomaltulose is a source of energy – it can provide 4 kilocalories per gram, which is about the same as sucrose [1,2].

Isomaltulose Sources

Isomaltulose naturally occurs in small amounts in sugar cane syrup and honey [1].

As a sweetener, isomaltulose is produced from beet sugar (sucrose) by using the enzyme sucrose isomerase obtained from the non-pathogenic bacterium Protaminobacter rubrum [1,2].

Isomaltulose may be expected in the more expensive “healthy foods” category of beverages, dilutable soft drinks, sport drinks, “near water,” beers, dairy products, ready-to-eat cereals, cereal bars, energy tablets, baked goods, confectionery, candies, chocolate bars and vitamin/mineral supplements [1].

Isomaltulose Digestion

Isomaltulose is slowly but completely digested in the small intestine by the enzyme isomaltase; its digestive products glucose and fructose are absorbed in the small intestine [1,3,4].

Individuals with a rare genetic disorder sucrase-isomaltase deficiency who have a lack of the enzyme sucrase-isomaltase deficiency can experience abdominal bloating and diarrhea after ingesting a certain amount of isomaltulose.

Possible Isomaltulose Benefits

Dental Caries

Isomaltulose does not promote tooth decay [5,6].

Diabetes Mellitus

Isomaltulose has a low glycemic index (GI = 32-37) and low insulinemic response, so it might be more suitable for diabetics than sucrose [1,2,6,7-p.9]. In one 2012 study, replacement of sucrose with isomaltulose for 12 weeks in individuals with diabetes 2 resulted in lower blood triglyceride levels but not lower HbA1c levels [8].

Isomaltulose Safety: Toxicity, Side Effects

In the European Union (EU), isomaltulose is considered a novel food – a food that was not used in considerable amounts in the EU before the year 1997 [9,10].

Isomaltulose has got the Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS) status by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) [2]. Isomaltulose ingested by healthy individuals in amounts up to 50 g per serving have not caused any side effects [2,6]. Isomaltulose has not been found toxic, carciogenic or mutagenic and allergic reactions to isomaltulose are not known [2].

Who should avoid isomaltulose?

Individuals with hereditary fructose intolerance (HFI) and saccharase-isomaltase deficiency should completely avoid isomaltulose.

Isomaltulose and Cooking

  • Isomaltulose is commercially available as a white, crystalline, odorless powder, 42% as sweet as sucrose [1].
  • Isomaltulose is very stable and has low hygroscopicity – it does not readily attracts moisture [11].
  • Solubility of anhydrous isomaltulose in water at 20° C is 41-49 g/100 mL [12, producers].
  • Melting point of isomaltulose is 253-262 °F (123-128 °C) [1,13].
  • Isomaltulose is a reducing sugar; the Maillard browning reaction with amino acids occurs at 284 °F (140 °C) [11].

  1. Application for the approval of isomaltulose  Advisory Comittee on Novel Foods and Processes
  2. GRAS Notification – Exemption Claim for Isomaltulose (Palatinose TM)  US Food and Drug Administration
  3. Achten J et al, 2007, Exogenous Oxidation of Isomaltulose Is Lower than That of Sucrose during Exercise in Men  The Journal of Nutrition
  4. Bi L et al, 2003, Exercise and gastrointestinal function and disease: an evidence-based review of risks and benefits  PubMed
  5. Food Labeling: Health Claims; Dietary Noncariogenic Carbohydrate Sweeteners and Dental Caries  US Food and Drug Administration
  6. Lina BA et al, 2002, Isomaltulose (Palatinose): a review of biological and toxicological studies  PubMed
  7. Mitchell H, 2006, Sweeteners-and-Sugarf-Alternatives-in-Food-Technology
  8. Bruner S et al, 2012, Metabolic effects of replacing sucrose by isomaltulose in subjects with type 2 diabetes: a randomized double-blind trial  PubMed
  9. Novel Food  European Commission
  10. Applications under Regulation (EC) N° 258/97 of the European Parliament and of the Council  European Commission
  11. Humada S, 2002, Role of sweeteners in the etiology and prevention of dental caries  Pure and Applied Chemistry
  12. 2009, Isomaltulose-containing instant beverage powder  Free Patents Online
  13. 13718-94-0(PALATINOSE) Product Description  Chemical Book

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