Check out what I found tucked into the ingredient list on a box of granola bars. Is this just high fructose corn syrup in disguise?
Here's the problem: not much is known about high maltose corn syrup. While high fructose corn syrup has been tested and researched and scrutinized, this maltose version seems to have slipped under the radar.
Maltose is a sugar just like fructose, but it's made of two joined glucose molecules. This makes it less sweet than either glucose (simple sugar) or fructose, though certainly still sweet enough to be used as a sweetener for things like granola bars, cereals, and even ice cream. It also provides some texture and gives the food product a longer shelf life.
Both maltose and fructose can be made from corn sugar, but the exact refining process used to make maltose corn syrup is unclear. It's probably safe to assume that the process is similar to making high fructose corn syrup, which involves heating cornstarch with enzymes in order to break down the starch molecules into simpler sugars.
So, yes, high fructose corn syrup and high maltose corn syrup are separate products. But high maltose corn syrup is still a highly refined type of corn-based sugar. It's hard to believe that it can be all that much different or better or safer than its high fructose cousin.
Looking at this ingredient list, I actually felt angry. It really did seem like a way for food manufacturers to be able to say, "See! No high fructose corn syrup! Perfectly safe!" High maltose corn syrup has been around for years, but I have a feeling we're going to start seeing it a lot more.
What do you think?
A Few More Links to Check Out:
• High Maltose Corn Syrup on Wikipedia
• Is High Maltose Corn Syrup Bad For You? from LiveStrong
• Safety of High Maltose Corn Syrup from the Center for Science in the Public Interest
• Is High Maltose Corn Syrup as Bad as High Fructose Corn Syrup? From Men's Health
Related: High Fructose Corn Syrup? Bad. Maple Syrup? Good.
(Image: Emma Christensen)