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Healthy Diet Plans >>  Sweeteners >>  Natural Sugar Substitutes >>  Lactitol


Lactitol is a disaccharide sugar alcohol (polyol) used as a replacement bulk sweetener. It is derived from natural milk sugar lactose (manufactured by reducing the glucose of lactose) with approximately 40% of the sweetness of sugar. Compared to a typical carbohydrate that provides 4 calories per gram, lactitol provides 2.4 calories per gram. The clean sweet taste of lactitol is similar to the taste profile of sucrose. It is a low calorie sweetener produced by two manufacturers Danisco and Purac Biochem and they market it in both anhydrous and monohydrate form.
Due to its stability, solubility, and similar taste to sucrose it is used in variety of low fat and low energy foods such as chocolates, sugar free candies preparation, chewing gums, baked goods and sugar substitutes.

Unlike lactose, lactitol is not hydrolyzed by the enzyme lactase for its metabolism. It is in fact neither hydrolyzed nor absorbed in the small intestine but is metabolized in the large intestine by the bacteria’s and is converted to biomass, organic acid, carbon dioxide and small amount of hydrogen. The further metabolism of organic acid results in a caloric distribution of 2 calories per gram. Lactitol like other sugar alcohols (sorbitol, mannitol, maltitol and xylitol) is approved by Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as ‘generally recognized as safe’. Most of the countries around the world have approved the use of lactitol in many food products. FDA has also approved it as a food addictive and is not associated with tooth decay or causing increases in blood sugar levels.

Lactitol is a white crystalline powder with clean sweet taste and no noted after taste. Lactitol is non hygroscopic that is it does not absorb water in the products when used and help to increase the shelf life by maintaining the quality of a product for example it helps to maintain crispiness and freshness of cookies and chewing gum. It is heat stable, stable in acidic and alkaline conditions and has similar solubility to glucose. Moreover due to its mild sweetness and low calories it can be combined with other high intensity sweeteners and be used as a replacement bulk sweetener. As lactitol is fermented in the large intestine it has beneficial effects on the colonic micro flora. Lactitol functions as a prebiotic as an increase in the prebiotic bacteria along with a decrease in pH of the colon resulting in significant reduction of potential pathogens in the colon. As lactitol contributes almost half the calories of sucrose, has a low glycemic index and does not induce an increase in blood sugar or insulin levels it is considered safe for consumption for people with diabetes. Compared to sugar it helps control blood sugar levels, insulin levels, body weight and lipids in the body of a person with diabetes.
Submitted on January 16, 2014