Health & Nutrition

Isomalt – The Better Sweetener

Market Trends of Sugar Alcohol Isomalt

The global market of sugar alcohols has grown steadily in the last decades. The global Isomalt market size was over USD 910 million in 2015 (Front Research, 2016) with over 90% of the total demand in growing end-use industries such as commercial candy, cake decorations, sugar sculptures and nutritional supplements. In the regional analysis of 2017, the Polyols market in Asia-Pacific held the largest market share of 37%, followed by North America. The major drive for its growth in the Asia-Pacific region is the rise in awareness of functionalities & applications of sugar alcohols in healthier food & beverage products, which is backed by the desire to overcome obesity, weight management problems and type-2 diabetes (Mordor Intelligence, 2017).

Success Stories

Isomalt is the only sugar replacer that naturally derives from sugar beet and has a similar sweetening profile to sugar. It provides a very natural sweetening profile which only delivers half the calories of sucrose (Beneo, 2016). Isomalt acts as a sugar replacer of sucrose and able to provide bulk, sweetness and texture in candies, chewing gums, ice cream, chocolates jams and jellies, frostings, compressed tables or lozenges, beverages and baked goods (Hofer, 2009; Whitney & Rolfes, 2007).

Although it provides a softer sweetness intensity, but in combination with Maltitol, it may provide extended crispiness in biscuits and prevent sticky crusts in cakes (Knott, 2016). Apart from its non-carcinogenic profile, products made from Isomalt are of nutritional and physiological benefits as it is sugar-free, low-calorie, and are safe for diabetic management. Owing to its similar taste profile as sucrose, Isomalt-containing products possess the same appearance and texture as those made with sugar (Grenby, 2012).

An attractive frozen yogurt can be produced with the incorporation of inulin and Isomalt with no added sugar (Isik et al., 2011). Isomalt can be incorporated in reduced-calorie and diabetic-friendly chocolate products as it has sugar-like neutral taste along with a melting behavior. The major source of energy in chocolate is fat, not sugar. Thus, a combination of Isomalt as bulking agent is recommended to further lower the calorie content of chocolate (O’Brien-Nabors, 2016).

On top of that, Isomalt can be blended in cereals and bars formulations which are originally high sugar containing. It helps to reduce sugar usage with up to 40%. Substitution of sugar by Isomalt in breakfast cereals and other cereal products results in similar product properties with respect to taste, bite, bowl-life and color at a one-to-one replacement in terms of weight. It helps to improve the shelf life and texture of finished products (O’Brien-Nabors, 2016).

When Isomalt meets its companions

Isomalt has a pure sweet taste similar to sucrose without any aftertaste (Considine & Considine, 2013). It shows a very similar organoleptic profile with 45% to 60% of the sweetness of sucrose. This characteristic enables Isomalt masks the bitter metallic aftertaste of some intense sweeteners when used in combination with other sugar alcohols such as xylitol, sorbitol, mannitol, maltitol syrup, hydrogenated starch syrup and with high-intensity sweeteners including acesulfame potassium, aspartame, sucralose, saccharin for synergistic effect (O’Brien-Nabors, 2016).

Isomalt is synergistic with other sweeteners. It can be paired with stevia offered the prospect of substituting aspartame, acesulfame-K or sucralose with a sweetener derived from natural sources. Isomalt has a great companion with stevia where it supports a wide range of flavors and ensures a refined taste profile over the lifetime of product without the negative aftertaste (Harrison-Dunn, 2013). Besides, Isomalt enhances both fruity and subtle flavors that demonstrates good stability. It exhibits nutritional and technical benefits at the same time (Beneo, 2016).

A tooth friendly treat

Isomalt does not promote dental caries as oral bacteria cannot readily convert it into decay causing acids. Therefore, the acidic conditions that lead to tooth demineralization do not develop after consuming Isomalt. Furthermore it is proven that Isomalt cannot be converted by oral bacteria as substance from which dental plaque is synthesized (Kini et al., 2011).

Consuming foods enriched with Isomalt does not jeopardise tooth health as this type of sugar is not fermentable by oral bacteria in which the protective influences of saliva remains unaffected (Zero, 2008). According to a research conducted by Takatsuka et al., (2008), Isomalt has shown a confirmed, positive effect in remineralisation enhancement. It is possible that Isomalt stabilises the calcium phosphate system present in enamel surface.

Low GI – does not increase blood glucose or insulin levels

Isomalt has low GI properties where it is absorbed slowly and liberates energy gradually. This leads to a lower increase of blood glucose and insulin levels after consumption of Isomalt as compared to glucose or sugar. Isomalt’s absorption by the body is slower compared to normal sugar making it diabetic friendly (Beneo, 2016).

Foods with high glycemic index is increasingly dubbed as the bad and the evil. Thus, the primary goal of nutritional management of diabetic individuals is to monitor and keep their blood glucose levels within a specified target range. Studies demonstrated that a low glycaemic diet possesses positive results in maintaining a healthy weight as well as helping to control blood glucose levels. Therefore, diabetes individuals have to closely monitor their blood sugar level (Beneo, 2016).

We deserve for healthier option

Growing number of health and wellness advocates are resulting to an increased number of products specialy formulated with less sugar whilst retaining good taste. Consumers are increasingly looking for natural origin and plant-based alternative to sugar.

Manufacturers are starting to develop healthy food products to fill the newly important food category for consumers. Thus, the food and beverage industry is actively creating more choices for consumers to meet their health goals by being aware of sugar and calories intake reduction.

Isomalt naturally derives from beet sugar. It provides a sweetening profile that is almost equal to sucrose with only half the calories. Isomalt works perfectly in calorie-reduced and tooth friendly products by reducing the sugar usage in the formulations. The incorporation of Isomalt into food and beverage formulations helps consumers to make better and healthier choices. Additionally, Isomalt is low-digestible where it is partially digested in the intestines making it a diabetic-friendly sweetener. Its tooth friendly and low glycaemic characteristics have been positively evaluated by the EFSA (Beneo, 2016).


Beneo. (2016). Matching today’s expectations. A new perspective on weight management.

Harrison-Dunn. (2013). Hard and sweet: The elusive candy promise. Confectionery News.

Isik, U., Boyacioglu, D., Capanoglu,E. & Erdil, D. N. (2011). Frozen yogurt with added inulin and Isomalt. Journal of Dairy Science, 94(4), 1647-56.

Kini, R., Rathnanand, M. & Kamath, D. (2011). Investigating the suitability of Isomalt and liquid glucose as sugar substitute in the formulation of Salbutamol sulfate hard candy lozenges. Journal of Chemical and Pharmaceutical Research. 3(4), 69-75.

Knott, M. (2016). Bakery and Confectionery: Sweet Appeal. Food Manufacture.

Mordor Intelligence. (2017). Global Polyols Market – Growth, Trends and Forecasts (2017 – 2022).

O’Brien-Nabors, L. (2016). Alternative Sweeteners, 4th ed. CRC Press, 276-292.

Prepared Foods. (2014). Beneo: Clean Label, Reduced Sugar.

Takatsuka, T., Exterkate, R.A.M. & Cate, J.M.T. (2008). Effects of Isomalt on Enamel De- and Remineralisation, A Combined In Vitro pH-cycling Model and In Situ Study. Clinical, Oral Investigations, 12(2), 173-177.

Zero, D.T. (2008). Are Sugar Substitutes Also Anticariogenic? The Journal of the American Dental Association, 139(2), 9S-10S.