Isomalt is an artificial sugar alcohol (polyol), it does not exist in nature. It has a good flavor with little after taste. It has 2.1 calories per gram, 53% of sugar but it has only 50% of the sweetness. So it is not useful as part of a calorie controlled diet, sugar is better.

It does, however, have a very low glycemic index and is consequently suitable for diabetics. It is popular in cake and confectionery making as it has properties that are desirable for producing intricate decorations, dessert garnishes and designs. It can be rolled and stretched and molded in a very versatile way.

It is much more resistant to crystallization and more malleable than sugar and this makes it ideal for confectioners and sugar artists. Top chiefs and professionals can create impressive cake decorations and garnishes. It is usually sold as sticks that can be melted down before use.

It has a very low glycemic index (Only 2 - sugar is 65) and this makes it useful as part of a diabetic diet. Like all sugar alcohols it is not metabolized by bacteria in the mouth and so it does not contribute to tooth decay.

It has an excellent taste and has an appearance and texture very similar to sugar. It is heat stable and ph stable and is suitable for cooking and for processed foods. It does not absorb water and so it does not become 'sticky'. This makes it excellent as a coating for hard sweets and candies.

It has a laxative effect. The body treats it as a fibre, this can be beneficial but can also cause discomfort or even diarrhea, if excessive amounts are consumed. It is not a natural product, it is synthesized from sucrose. Probably best not to consume more than 20 gm per day. 
Tests on volunteers have showed it to be safe and even beneficial if consumed in quantities up to 30 gm per day. 
Source: National Library of Medicine See report here

There is no guideline Acceptable Daily Intake set by the FDA, but as with all sugar alcohols they recommend moderation.

CSPI (US) Recommendation

The recommendation issued by the Center for Science in the Public Interest (US) for this substance is - CUT BACK

It is made in a two stage process from sugar. It is a man made creation, it does not exist in nature.

Sold As:
ClearCutâ„¢ Isomalt

How Expensive?
On the bulk market it is 
one of the most expensive sweeteners is about 5 times the price of sugar by weight.

Isomalt Market Share:
As most sugar alcohols it has a very small market share. This represents 0.05 million tons per annum giving a share of about 0.03% or about 3000 times less than sugar.

Interesting facts:
It was discovered in the 1960s and has only recently gained popularity, due to it's unique qualities. It is used in hard candies, chewing gum, chocolates, cough drops and lozenges. It does not produce a cooling effect in the mouth, which makes it suitable as a direct substitute for sugar.

One spoon of sugar contains 16 calories. To achieve the same sweetness it would be necessary to consume almost two spoons of Isomalt which would yield 17 calories, so there is no saving at all. Consequently it is of no benefit at all as part of a calorie controlled diet. It is often mixed with high intensity sweeteners such as Asulfame K to bring the sweetness level up to that of sugar.

It is approved for use in most countries. Approved in the EU as E953. 

Conclusions for Isomalt

No saving over sugar in terms of calories. Is useful for diabetics and it is harmless to teeth. But it can cause discomfort for some people if taken in excessive quantities. Very useful for confectioners and chefs for making showpieces.

Name Calories / Gram Sweetness Index Glycemic Index Calories / Spoon-Equiv
Isomalt 2.1 0.5 2 17

Taste: -------- Good
Aftertaste: ---- No.
Concerns: ----- Yes.

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