What is isomalt?
As all polyols, isomalt is a sugar alcohol or hydrogenated carbohydrate. It is also known as sugar replacer, bulk sweetener or sugar-free sweetener. Isomalt is the only polyol derived from beet sugar. It has a sugar-like and mild sweetness devoid of any aftertaste and without any distracting cooling effect. Thus, it enhances even delicately-flavoured fruity sweets. However, if a cooling effect is desired, it can be achieved by addition of flavours and cooling agents. Also, it is very similar to sugar, as the white crystalline raw material replaces sugar in a 1:1 mass ratio and is used where not only the sweetness but the texture and mouthfeel of sugar is required. Moreover, being low-hygroscopic isomalt can be easily stored and consumer products don’t absorb humid air or melt under extreme conditions, resulting in an improved shelflife. Isomalt has a very low glycaemic and insulinaemic effect (when compared on a gram/gram basis a glyceamic index of only 2 is established) and doesn’t promote tooth decay. Compared to an energy value of 4 kcal/g for sugars and carbohydrates, in Europe isomalt is counted with an energy value of 2.4 kcal/g, while in many other countries its scientific energy value of 2 kcal/g is used.
In what products is isomalt used?
Due to its physiological and technical properties isomalt (European safety number E 953; Intrenational number INS 953) can be used as a basic component in a wide range of high-quality products such as candies, chewing gums, baked goods, chocolate, and many others. Isomalt is marketed for food applications as solid product or aqueous solution. Candy: In sugar-free hard candies segment, isomalt is the preferred ingredient around the globe. It dissolves more slowly than sugar so the candy lasts longer in the mouth; cough and throat sweets containing active ingredients have longer to deliver their beneficial effects and flavour release is experienced longer. Candies made with isomalt are very stable and resistant to abrasion and damage during production and storage. Their low hygroscopicity provides them with the additional clear advantage that they do not become sticky at high temperatures and in humid air. This means they do not need to be wrapped individually but can be stored in loose packaging such as flip-top boxes or in tubes. Chewing gum: Isomalt is used in all kinds chewing gums, whether pellets, stripes, balls, cushion-shaped, or direct-compressed. Being dissolved slowly it enhances the flavour release. It provides chewing gum with uniform coatings having a silky gloss and an excellent crunch. The isomalt coating protects the core of the chewing gum from drying out. The good colour-absorption properties enable coatings with strong colours which retain their brilliance even after a long period of storage and are very resistant to abrasion. When isomalt is used in gum centres less hardening is experienced and better stability can be achieved. Bakery: Baked goods with isomalt have the same taste, body, colour, pore size distribution and fluffy consistency as if sugar were used. In hard baked goods it gives crunchiness and crispiness as well as a smooth surface. In addition it does not contribute to the browning reaction in any way, making it a highly stable alternative. Chocolate: Isomalt can be used in all variants of chocolate: dark chocolate, white or milk chocolate, chocolate coatings, fillings such as chocolate, caramel or nougat cream, as well as nougat spreads without major adaption of the production process. Due to isomalt’s mild and natural sweetness the chocolate flavor fully develops – without undesirable cooling effect. It melts in your mouth, yet still has that characteristic snap when you take a bite. See also Polyols – food applications
As excipient for the pharmaceutical industry isomalt can be used for powder blends and compression applications as well special ground grades for processing technologies such as wet granulation, roller compaction and fluid bed agglomeration. Its characteristics makes it suitable for various direct oral applications like tablets, capsule and sachet fillings. It shows compactibility, flowability and very low hygroscopicity. Also, it is physically and chemically extremely stable. Its sweet, well balanced taste is a decisive advantage for the formulation of direct oral applications, even in combination with active ingredients of unpleasant taste profiles. See also Polyols – pharmaceutical applications