What Is High Maltose Corn Syrup?

The other day, a coworker asked me about high maltose corn syrup. She found the ingredient in her Fiber One bar and was curious about what this ingredient was. Should we avoid it like high fructose corn syrup, she asked?

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High maltose corn syrup is a food additive used to sweeten foods and increase shelf life. Chemically, high maltose corn syrup is similar to high fructose corn syrup, and is typically created from genetically modified corn. In comparison to table sugar, corn is much cheaper and more convenient for food manufacturers to use, so MOST processed foods contain some form of corn syrup. Go ahead, check some of the labels in your pantry, I guarantee you will find at least ONE product with corn syrup in the ingredient list!

Contains HMCS AND HFCS!

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  High maltose corn syrup, corn syrup solids, high fructose corn syrup, and maltodextrin are all similar ingredients, each produced in a wide variety of applications or formulations. While high fructose corn syrup is a combination of fructose and glucose, used as a sweetener and preservative, high maltose corn syrup ”improves shelf life and inhibits fermentation and bacterial growth,” according to CSPI (Center for Science in the Public Interest).

High maltose corn syrup can be found in candies, baked goods, puddings, teas, coffee, beer, powdered drinks, in sauces and dressing as a thickening agent, and as the base of some artificial sweeteners. Although there are no definitive studies about the use of high maltose corn syrup being as harmful as high fructose corn syrup, it’s still probably wise to use caution when consuming this ingredient, until MORE research is conducted.

As a Nation, we consume far too many corn products. According to Visual Economics website (their sources seemed reliable), Americans consume approximately 42 lbs of corn syrup and 56 lbs of corn each year.  Those numbers reflect the corn we consume from ALL foods. You see, corn is used in EVERYTHING and if you don’t believe me, read the book, “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” by Michael Pollen (extremely fascinating). Those corn stats are based on corn consumption through everything from feed, ethanol, corn syrup, glucose, starches, cereals, and alcohol. Whoa. I think we need to cut back!

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In general, our main goal is to consume LESS processed foods. Whether the product contains high fructose corn syrup or high maltose corn syrup, know that the product you are buying or consuming is processed, contains added sugars, and that there is probably a better option, like WHOLE foods!! Until further research is provided, I would suggest limiting products with this ingredient as much as possible.

Question: Have you heard of high maltose corn syrup? Any other information to share or link? I would love to read it!

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35 comments to What Is High Maltose Corn Syrup?

  • David

    will on the HFCS and sugar is about the same as salt is to chlorine and sodium as the they both are different by a single monocular bond but lucky for us salt bond is very hard to break and sadly the bond in sugar is not that hard to break

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  • JJ

    Funny that I should come across this site, as I sit here staring at a Nature Valley Fruit & Nut Trail Mix bar. Citing high maltose corn syrup as ingredient #2 with 13g sugar and after reading your post, I am tempted to give it away. Especially here in Asia, corn is eaten everywhere, in all forms, and personally, I’d rather invest in calories from eating popcorn, cereal and nachos!

  • Charlotte Walker

    I have a recent email exchange with General Mills about my complaint about one of their products containing High Maltose Corn Syrup. Its really too long to put into this form. I think this sweetener needs careful public attention before we finally learn about it 20 years later, as with HFCS.

  • [...] “100% natural” snacks contain ingredients such as high fructose corn syrup, high maltose corn syrup and maltodextrin (a thickener that also adds sweetness). According to the complaint, high-maltose [...]

  • Emily

    why,why,why did I not know this before! UGH!!!!!!

  • #1 It is all about MONEY and they don’t care about any long term affects on health with the public.
    New studies have shown High fructose corn syrup makes you fat, makes you feel not full,and can cause fatty liver cancer. Check out what Dr. OZ says about it.
    #2 How does it get on our shelves at the store before any non – bias scientific studies???
    #3 Who is receiving money from the lobbyists of the muti billion dollar corp. to look the other way?
    #4 We need a microscope on the FDA and fire who is responsible or scrub the personal and start over.
    Lets make it happen & pass this on in your e mails.

    There is a new bill being introduced about genetically produced foods. Lets back this one.
    Wally P.S. they don’t allow it in Europe.

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  • Bonnie

    Like JL at the beginning of this blog, my 14 yr old son recently was diagnosed with fructose malabsorption, never even would have known about it had I not pressured my pediatrician and then the gastroenterologist into realizing that it had to be some type of sugar thing. His stomach problems would manifest out of nowhere at no particular time of day or night, sweats, chills, neausea, dizziness and severe stomach pain feeling blocked up yet unable to get anything to move and when it finally did, would burn and be more like diarrhea. I knew these symptoms related to sugar because my ex-husband had gastric bypass and one of the things they are warned about is dumping syndrome if too much sugar is consumed at one sitting after having that surgery. We thought it was celiac, gluten, lactose, tried limiting everything we could think of, but never thought he’d have to leave out vegetables, fruits and even breads and pastas. I also had noticed that in the past couple of years, I was buying more and more 12pks even 24 pks of cola drinks. Which we always had a house full of teenage boys so never really thought it was him drinking them all, but have come to find out he was, he was actually craving more and more of them. He was gaining weight, getting depressed, having anxieties, become a recluse because he didn’t want to have an episode out in public at that time we didnt’ know what it was. Too much for a young teenage boy to try to handle. At least now we have some direction, but diet is so limited he gets bored and I do too trying to find things for him to eat. Did find that Fruity pebbles believe it or not have no gluten, are made with rice flour and sugar. Sugar his body can digest, HFCS and straight fructose even the vitamin water with crystalline fructose in it, is horrible for him. I’m reading more labels these days, so if you or your child are suffering, don’t back down, keep pressing for answers. The fructose malabsorption test may not be covered on your insurance, but it’s well worth having it and find out and it’s not painful. All breath tests. I was totally shocked to see the HMCS on the fiber one bars I bought the other day as well. From one thing to another, needs to stop. Also found out that Coca Cola makes coke with sugar at some processing plants during lent and they have a yellow lid instead of red. Not sure why they do this, but will definitely be looking for them next passover. Good luck to all.

  • JL

    Listen folks…my daughter had SEVERE stomach aches for years from the ages of 5 to 7 years of age…we tried all kinds of tests and finally figured out that she had a frustose malabsorption issue. So for those that want us to think that sugar is the same as HFCS, my daughter who is highly sensitive to HFCS and all the other spin-offs like HMCS, CSS, etc…can eat sugar just fine but these others cause her to have severe stomach aches that last for hours because he body can’t process it…sugar is naturally occuring and her body can manage the 50/50 split having the sucrose to help her digest the fructose…without the natural combination, she is miserable! So stop the spin and misleading adds and “science” and stop making the garbage and putting it in foods…we have had to go to 100% organic and natural foods to help her…believe me this is after YEARS of painful experience and trial and error…

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  • will

    while I couldn’t agree more with the statement “as a nation we consume far too many corn products” as well as the benefits of eating a less processed diet, I would somewhat disagree with your equating high fructose corn syrup to high maltose corn syrup. Here is a brief explanation as to why…

    First let’s all get one misconception out of the way. Table sugar i.e. sucrose is almost identical to high fructose corn syrup: table sugar is 50% fructose because it is one fructose molecule bound to a glucose molecule; whereas, high fructose corn syrup is 55% fructose and 45% glucose. Therefore if you are cutting out high fructose corn syrup and replacing it with sucrose you have not really changed anything on a biochemical level. And since it is basically the same at its nature, your body really doesn’t distinguish between high fructose corn syrup and table sugar.

    Next, it is important to note that fructose is processed much differently than glucose, as it can only be absorbed and processed by the liver, whereas glucose is used by all tissues in the body (the brain, muscles, liver etc). Fructose is actually processed very similarly to ethanol (alcohol), and thus has many of the same deleterious effects of alcohol without the intoxication (i.e increased fat storage, fatty liver, free radical production etc). Interestingly enough, fructose also is absorbed directly by the liver without an intervening receptor. This is important because when glucose is absorbed by the liver it binds one of the GLUT receptors and initiates a biochemical cascade which includes insulin release as well as several other gut hormones. Why does this matter? Because these hormones help with storage and usage of the molecule, but more importantly for us dieters they help us feel full. Fructose on the other hand bypasses these cascades and in some studies have actually been shown to increase appetite despite carrying a significant caloric burden. Fructose is also processed completely differently than glucose in that ~50% of it is stored as fat, whereas glucose is stored in the liver as glycogen (a starch or chain of sugars). So when you eat fructose in any form (i.e. HFCS vs sucrose), if it is not immediatly used for energy, a significant chunk of it is stored as fat.

    so as briefly detailed above, biochemically glucose is processed in a completely different manner than fructose, so theoretically maltose (which is just two glucose molecules bound together) should be a fairly benign food additive in that it is processed like any grain and stored as glycogen in the liver first.

    for more details just google “sugar: the bitter truth” and watch the youtube video. it is a lecture by a pediatric endocrinologist (hormone doctor) from UCSF (san fransisco) named Dr. Robert Lustig and he explores the biochemical nature of these sugars in more depth with the accompanying current scientific research that backs his claims. It really is a great learning tool for any dieter.

    so after all of this scientific gobbledy goop, my point is really that I am unsure of how bad high maltose corn syrup is, but it is most likely not equivalent to high fructose corn syrup. However, eating closer to the ground or per Pollen’s rules is still probably your safest bet. (sorry the science nerd in me could not resist correcting this)

  • Roz

    Thanks as always for the info Erin. Have a great weekend.

  • things like this make it easier and easier to not buy anything packaged and processed! it sounds more like poison than a sweetener, added to kill bacteria and increase shelf life? ICK! i rather buy fresh :)

  • I had a client once that came in and told me he had to stay away from protein bars that had maltose b/c, and I quote, he “CANT STOP POOPING!” bahahaha! I’m a label reader so I spot that stuff out right away. I’m slowly cutting out more and more stuff from the hubs diet too. he doesnt notice =) as long as I still buy him nerds candies he will let me clean house with only healthy foods =) shhh

  • Thanks for the information, I have never heard of maltose corn syrup. I think the length of the ingredient list was a little telling for those Fiber 1 bars. I think a pantry check is a good ideas as people can find ingredients in seemingly healthy foods they wouldn’t want there.

  • I don’t know much about high maltose corn syrup, but one of my new year’s resolutions was to make more of my own food, rather than buying all the extra processed foods. There’s too long of ingredient lists on all these packagings!

  • Thanks for sharing this info, Erin!! I have had clients ask me about this before too. It’s GMO and no good! I will definitely share this post with them, sometimes hearing it from another source validates my urge for them to not consume foods with these types of things!

  • I’ve heard of it, but I didn’t really know what it was. This is very informative!

  • I love my Nutrition Action Newsletter :) They do such a good job of calling out all of these stupid ingredients.
    Another fun one they called out recently was “Fructose” as an ingredient. We are so worried about “high fructose corn syrup” because of the triglyceride factor…but how is fructose any different?! Ugh.

  • I always just kind of grouped high maltose corn syrup with high fructose corn syrup. Thanks for explaining the details to me!!!

  • This was such an informative post. I had never heard of it before!

  • La.

    You are totally right!!!!!!! Corn is in EVERYTHING! I’ve really enjoyed reading your posts as of late! The binging advice, so awesome!!!!

  • I have never heard of high maltose corn syrup. Thanks for doing a post on it.
    I have been trying to consume less processed foods. Even foods that seem healthy tend to have so much crap added to them. It’s crazy!

  • It really is in EVERYTHING. I challenge my students and patients to search ingredients lists and they’re always floored with where all it pops up! Great post!

  • I would recommend people watch the movie “King Corn” as well! If I remember correctly, the two guys found corn in the DNA in their hair! We eat so much of it, it’s actually becoming a part of us – SCARY!

  • OO GREAT info!!! i never knew about high maltose corn syrup.. although it just sounds nasty!.. you’re right-p WAYYYYY too many corn products are used.. poor corn!

  • I agree that we, as a civilization that relys on corn, need to cut back. We have had a monumental shift in the way we eat in the last 20 years and we just haven’t been eating this way long enough to known the long-term effects on us. Obviously obesity is one…as obesity rates have sky rocketed at an alarming rate but even beyond that we just don’t know. I feel like we are shoving things into our mouths that our government tell us is “safe” but in reality they don’t know either.

  • I am so glad you left a comment on my blog, so I could find yours :) Love love love it! Right down to the header and clean design and awesome post. <3 In line with the post, did you get to read the article on sugar today? http://nyti.ms/hLYgkY It's the best assessment I've seen yet of this issue. Anywho, have a good one, dear!

  • For the past several months, I’ve really cut down on the processed foods. Almost everything I eat is made from scratch and involves lots of plant based foods. I rarely purchase anything with the word’s corn syrup in it!

  • Gen

    Very interesting! I had never heard of high maltose corn syrup, but I’ll be sure to check labels from here on out! :D

  • I’ve always wondered about high maltose corn syrup! Since so many people are avoiding HFCS now, HMCS seems like a sneaky way for the corn manufacturers to keep including corn-based sweeteners is products. I try to avoid both, and stick to agave or sugar-sweetened products when I’m craving something sweet. REAL, less processed foods taste better anyways!

    P.S. I just wrote a paper about functional fiber in foods (ahem, Fiber One bars!), and while I was researching, came across your post about fiber (last August)! Just wanted to let you know that it was very helpful and that it was one of the first links in my Google result! :-) <3

  • Love this post! There’s so much good info on high maltose corn syrup. A lot of people don’t realize what all the ingredients are, or just how much processed corn they consume.

  • I had not heard of High Maltose Corn Syrup. Thanks for the tip. I tend to stay away from anything with the words “Corn Syrup” or the new one “Corn Sugar”. Corn sugar is just HFCS with a different name, the corn industry changed the name to “fool” us because HFCS has gotten a bad (but honest) rap.

  • I agree with you that it’s best to limit all processed foods in general. I was pretty shocked to see that Fiber One bars contained high fructose corn syrup (and high maltose corn syrup too I believe) when I did my bars comparison post (http://eatspinrunrepeat.wordpress.com/2011/03/04/raising-the-bar/). It makes me wonder what other seemingly ‘healthy’ foods have it hiding inside too!

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