Sugar replacer has avery low glycemic index' researchers verify

1st April 2013

Tests at the Sydney University Glycemic Index Research Service (SUGiRS) have verified that the sugar replacer Isomalt from Palatinit has a very low glycemic index (GI), well below that of certain other sugar substitutes and types of sugars.

With a value of two, Isomalt belongs to the group of carbohydrates that may be recommended for frequent consumption.

The glycemic index (GI) is a measure of the effect of a carbohydrate on the blood sugar (glucose) level and is a more accurate indicator than the so-called bread unit ­ used as a calculatory basis in the diet of diabetics ­ which provides information about the quantity of carbohydrates in a food solely. A low glycemic diet continuously reduces the level of insulin production and helps to reduce the level of blood cholesterol. This in turn helps prevent cardiovascular diseases, obesity, and diabetes. A low insulin level also helps avoid episodic binge eating, making it easier for the patient to lose weight and supporting the weight management of health-conscious consumers.

The GI is measured against glucose, which corresponds to a reference value of 100. Normal sugar (saccharose) has a GI of 68, honey 55, lactose 46, and fructose 20. White bread, cereal, or boiled potatoes have a high glycemic index. Pineapples and ice cream have medium values whereas apples, legumes, or milk have low glycemic values.

Using Isomalt instead of sugar can significantly reduce the glycemic value of many products, eg cream caramel candies normally have a GI of about 62, but only 5 with Isomalt. Using Isomalt as a sweetener instead of sugar can significantly reduce the glycemic index of other products such as bakery, ice cream, cereal and fruit bars or jam.

Isomalt's low glycemic index is due to the stability of its molecular bonds. Isomalt is manufactured from pure beet sugar in a two-stage process. This processing rearranges and stabilises the molecular bonds. As a result, neither plaque bacteria in the mouth nor digestion in the small intestine are able to break down Isomalt completely. This means teeth are protected and at the same time calories cut back and the blood glucose level remains virtually constant.

The World Health Organisation has emphasised the importance of a low glycemic diet since 1997. Although for the time being a low glycemic certificate is not yet specified in many countries, in South Africa the Glycemic Foundation issues a GI seal as well as the Glycemic Index Ltd in Australia. This seal has been used in Australia and New Zealand and is now registered for the US and Europe. Representing an alternative approach for long-term healthy and balanced nutrition the GI may become part of food communication and labelling.

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