Hydrogenated starch hydrolysates (HSH), including hydrogenated glucose syrups, maltitol syrups, and sorbitol syrups, are a family of pleasant-tasting bulk sweeteners used in a variety of products. They are exceptionally well suited for sugar-free candies because they do not crystallize. They blend well with flavors and are synergistic with low-calorie sweeteners.
HSH serve a number of functional roles, including use as bulk sweeteners, viscosity or bodying agents, humectants, crystallization modifiers, cryoprotectants and rehydration aids. They also can serve as sugar-free carriers for flavors, colors and enzymes. HSH were developed by a Swedish company in the 1960’s and have been used by the food industry for many years, especially in confectionery products.
Facts About Hydrogenated Starch Hydrolysates
- Pleasant tasting bulk sweeteners that blend well with other sweeteners and are synergistic with low-calorie sweeteners (e.g., acesulfame potassium, aspartame, neotame, saccharin and sucralose)
- Blend well with flavors and can mask unpleasant off-flavors
- Reduced calorie alternatives to sugar, having not more than 3 calories per gram
- Used in a variety of products; exceptionally well suited for sugar-free candies because they do not crystallize
- Do not contribute to the formation of dental caries
- May be useful as alternatives to sugar for people with diabetes on the advice of their physician
Uses and Sweetness of HSH
HSH are outstanding humectants which do not crystallize, enabling the production of sugar-free food and confections with the same cooking and handling systems used to produce sugar candies. These products are used extensively in confections, baked goods, a broad range of other foods, dentifrices and mouthwashes.
HSH are nutritive sweeteners that provide 40 to 90 percent of the sweetness of sugar. Being polyols, HSH are not sugars and are used to provide sweetness, texture and bulk to a variety of sugarless products. Unlike sugars, HSH are not readily fermented by oral bacteria and are used to formulate sugarless products that do not promote dental caries.
HSH are also more slowly absorbed in the digestive tract. A portion of HSH may be enzymatically hydrolyzed in the body to sorbitol, maltitol and glucose, however, this process is slow. Therefore, HSH have a reduced glycemic potential relative to glucose for individuals with and without diabetes. Since HSH are more slowly absorbed, a portion of HSH in a food reaches the lower digestive tract where it is metabolized by naturally occurring colonic bacteria. This results in a reduction in the available calories and permits its use as a reduced calorie alternative to sugar.
Polyglycitol is approved for use in a number of food categories in the European Union. Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) affirmation petitions for HSH have been accepted for filing by the Food and Drug Administration. This allows manufacturers to produce and sell foods containing these sweeteners in the United States.
Multiple Ingredient Approach to Calorie Control
HSH, although less sweet than sucrose, blend well with other sweeteners and flavors and can mask unpleasant off-flavors such as bitter notes. HSH products are synergistic with low-calorie sweeteners. Applications for HSH include confectioneries, baked goods, icings and frozen desserts. In baked goods, for example, HSH products not only offer sweetness but also moisture control, texture improvement, crystallization inhibition, less browning (allowing less chance of burning), stability improvement with extended shelf life and flavor improvement.
The safety of HSH products and their components is substantiated by a broad range of safety studies in man and animals, including long term feeding, multigeneration reproduction and teratology studies.
The Joint Food and Agriculture Organization/World Health Organization Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) has reviewed the safety information and concluded that maltitol syrups are safe. JECFA established an acceptable daily intake (ADI) for “maltitol syrup” of “not specified,” meaning no limits are placed on its use. An ADI of “not specified” is the safest category in which JECFA can place a food ingredient. JECFA’s decisions are often adopted by many small countries that do not have their own agencies to review food additive safety. In 1984, the Scientific Committee for Food of the European Union evaluated maltitol syrups and concluded it was not necessary to set an ADI for maltitol syrups.
In the United States, Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) petitions for HSH products have been accepted for filing. Once a GRAS affirmation petition has been accepted for filing, food manufacturers may use the ingredient. Products from the HSH family are approved in many other countries, including Canada, Japan and Australia.