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Hydrogenated Starch Hydrolysates (HSH): Polyglycitol and Maltitol Syrup

What are hydrogenated starch hydrolysates (HSH)?

Hydrogenated starch hydrolysates (HSH) or polyglucitol syrup, which include hydrogenated glucose syrup, maltitol syrup and sorbitol syrup, is a mixture of various sugar alcohols and carbohydrates [1].

Nutrition Facts:

  • Calories per gram = 3
  • Glycemic index (GI) = 36-53
  • Sweetness, relative to sucrose = 25-50%
  • Net carbs = zero

HSH Digestion and Metabolism

In the human body, HSHs may be metabolized to sorbitol, maltitol and glucose [1].


HSH is used as a bulk sweeteners and humectants, flavor and color enhancers [1].

Maltitol Syrups

Maltitol syrups contain at least 50% maltitol on a dry basis [2-p.310]. They are produced from maltose syrups derived from corn, wheat or potato starch [1]. They have no cooling effect [2-p.313]. Maltitol syrups have about 3 kilocalories per gram [2-p.317]. Glycemic index of maltitol syrups is 36-53 [2-p.9]. Sweetness of maltitol syrups increases with maltitol content and ranges between 25-50% relative to sucrose [4]. Maltitol syrup prevents crystallization of other polyols in the food [2-p.327]. In the European Union, maltitol syrup is labeled as E number 965ii [7].


Polyglycitols contain less than 50% maltitol and less than 20% sorbitol on a dry basis [2-p.310]. They are produced from maltose syrups. They have no cooling effect [2-p.313]. Polyglycitol syrups have about 3 kilocalories per gram [2-p.317;4]. Glycemic index of polyglycitol is 39 [2-p.9]. Maltitol syrups and and polyglycitols are safe to use according to World Health Organization’s Joint Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) [2-p.329].

Possible HSH Benefits

Dental caries. HSHs does not readily cause dental caries [1].

Diabetes mellitus. HSHs have a low glycemic index and do not significantly increase blood glucose and insulin levels [1,3].

HSHs Safety: Side Effects and Dangers

HSHs do not seem to have any serious side effects v [3,5]. Currently (y.2014) HSHs are not Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS) by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). If consumed in amounts greater than 125 grams per day, HSHs can trigger diarrhea [3].

There is no evidence about cancer promoting effect (carcinogenity) of maltitol syrup (polyglycitol) [6].

HSH and Cooking

Physical properties:

  • A clear syrup or white crystalline substance without odor
  • Sweetness = 25-50% as sweet as sucrose [4]
  • Hygroscopic – attract moister from the air [3]
  • Do not crystallize at room temperature [1]
  • Do not undergo caramelization or the Maillard browning reaction [3]

Related Nutrients

  1. Hydrogenated Starch Hydrolisates (HSH)  Calorie Control Council
  2. Mitchell, H., 2006, Sweeteners and Sugar Alternatives in Food Technology
  3. Self GRAS notification for hydrogenated starch hydrolisates  US Food and Drug Administration
  4. Erythritol  Toxnet
  5. Modderman, JP, 1993, Safety assessment of hydrogenated starch hydrolysates  PubMed
  6. Scientific Opinion on the use of Polyglycitol Syrup as a food additive  European Food Safety Authority
  7. Current EU approved additives and their E Numbers  Food Standards Agency


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