Isomalt is a combination of 2 sugar alcohols: gluco-sorbitol (GPS) and gluco-mannitol (GPM). It is a white crystalline compound without an odour. Isomalt is 55% as sugary as sucrose and it can dissolve readily into the mouth, leaving a cooling effect.
The compound has low hygroscopicity at a relative humidity (85%). Isomalt dissolves in water at 250 C/770 F, 25 g/100g of the solution; it is sparingly soluble in ethanol. The compound has a melting point of 145-1500 C/293-3020 F and it decomposes at 1600 C/3200 F or higher temperatures.
One manufacturer maintains that Isomalt does not caramelize or go through the Maillard browning interaction with amino acids.
Isomalt is a sugar-free sweetener that is used as an alternative to sugar due to its physical properties. Sugar alcohols such as Isomalt are absorbed sparingly into the small intestines hence it has an insignificant effect on blood sugar concentration. Isomalt provides a wide range of other benefits such as low hygroscopicity, a natural taste, minimal calories per gram and it is tooth-friendly. This sweetener can be used by anyone and it can also be beneficial as it promotes gut health in people who are on low-carb diets and diabetic patients. In the European Union, Isomalt is indicated on food labels as E/E953.
About 10% of the ingested compound is digested to mannitol, sorbitol and glucose in the small intestines whereas the rest is conveyed into the large intestine where it undergoes fermentation in the presence of beneficial bacteria to release short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) and gases. The SCFAs are sparingly absorbed into the large intestine and some are consumed by the bacteria.
The preparation process starts with sucrose. An enzyme inhibits the link between fructose and glucose in sucrose. In the fructose segment of the disaccharide, 2 hydrogen molecules are added to the oxygen molecule present. About half of the original fructose segment from the disaccharide is transformed into mannitol and approximately half of the fructose segment of the initial disaccharide is transformed into sorbitol. Therefore, Isomalt comprises 2 disaccharide alcohols: gluco-sorbitol and gluco-mannitol.
The molecular modifications that take this format make Isomalt enzymatically and chemically stable than sucrose. The stability of the compound makes it ideal for incorporation into a wide range of products and consumption based on its health-related advantages.
Isomalt is incorporated into sugar-free products due to its tolerable aftertaste and sweet purity. The compound can be applied to a wide range of foods such as low-fat ice-cream, milk & chilled drinks, table sugar, daubing food, baking food, corn breakfast food, chewing gum, chocolate and candy.
It is also used as an anti-caking, glazing and bulking agent in low-calorie toffees, fruit spreads, smoked and frozen meat and fish, infant formulas, lozenges, pan-coated tablets, mineral/multivitamin supplements and jams.
Isomalt increases the transfer of flavour in certain foods. Its gradual dissolution after consumption makes candy made from this compound last for a longer time. Isomalt does not leave behind the unpleasant cooling effect associated with other polyols. These sensory properties make it ideal for addition into flavoured applications and baked products.
Isomalt is not recommended for use in pregnant women, children and newborns. However, if the intake of this compound is inevitable, one should consult a doctor.
Isomalt functions in the same way as other sparingly digestible compounds hence its fermentation in the intestines may result in flatulence, diarrhoea, abdominal pain, and bloating if the compound is ingested in bulk. However, the consistent use of Isomalt makes one tolerant of sugar alcohols, which minimizes the probability of occurrence of associated side effects.