The research, published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, evaluated the short-term digestive tolerance and glycaemic responses of several combinations of maltitol and short-chain fructo-oligosaccharides (scFOS) used to replace sugars in foods.
Led by researchers from ingredients producer Tereos Syral and the clinical research firm Biofortis SAS, the new study suggests there is a significant benefit to be gained from the joint use of maltitol and scFOS in terms of lowering postprandial glycaemic response and showing reductions in insulin release when replacing sugars in sugar-free desserts.
"This study confirms that reducing sugars and more particularly dextrose by adding polyols or fibres in foods has only a limited impact on GI symptoms in the short term," wrote the research team - led by Frederique Respondek.
"More importantly, it has shown that maltitol and scFOS can be used jointly when formulating sugar-free foods with the benefit to reduce postprandial glycaemic response with no further impact on GI symptoms than when maltitol is used alone."
The team noted that FOS and polyols such as maltitol are frequently used, alone or in combination, in energy-reduced or sugar-reduced food formulations.
Polyols are low digestible carbohydrates with a low glycaemic index and a low caloric value (2.4 kcal/g), while FOS are dietary fibres with a low glycaemic index as well, and a caloric value of 2 kcal/g.
With a sweetening power of 80% for maltitol and 30% for FOS (compared to sucrose), these bulking and sweetening agents are frequently used in sugars reduced foodstuffs, said the team who noted that food manufacturers often combine them in order to improve sensory properties and digestive tolerance of reduced sugars and no added sugars foodstuffs.
The tests conducted by the team used different combinations of Actilight FOS and Maltilite maltitol to replace at least 30% sugars in dairy dessert creams.
Thirty-six healthy subjects aged 18–60 years were recruited for the study, with and 32 completing it. The participants consumed six different mixtures of dextrose, maltitol and scFOS added in a chocolate dairy dessert at a dosage of 35 g. Test days were separated by two-week washout periods.
The subjects reported the intensity of four individual gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms, number of bowel movements and stool frequency for the 48 h following consumption of the dessert, while a subgroup of 18 subjects also provided blood samples two hours after intake to evaluate the postprandial glycaemic and insulinaemic responses.
Respondek and colleagues found that composite scores calculated from the intensity of flatulence, borborygmi, bloating and discomfort was significantly higher for all the desserts containing maltitol and/or scFOS than for the control dessert containing dextrose. However, the scores all remained at the level of mild effects.
"Blood glycaemic and insulinaemic responses were lower for all the sugar-free recipes containing maltitol and scFOS in comparison to the control one," they revealed.
"This study has shown that maltitol and scFOS can be used jointly when formulating sugar-free foods with the benefit to lower postprandial glycaemic response with only a small and transient increase in non-serious GI symptoms."
Source: European Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Published online ahead of print, open access, doi: 10.1038/ejcn.2014.30
"Digestive tolerance and postprandial glycaemic and insulinaemic responses after consumption of dairy desserts containing maltitol and fructo-oligosaccharides in adults"
Authors:F Respondek, C Hilpipre, et al