Syrups are a common ingredient in many of our favorite foods, from baked goods to breakfast cereals. While we may be familiar with corn syrup and high fructose corn syrup, there’s another syrup that’s often used as a sweetener: malt syrup.
But is malt syrup from corn like high fructose corn syrup?
In this article, we’ll explore the differences between these two sweeteners and what makes malt syrup unique. So grab a cup of tea or coffee and let’s dive in!
Is Malt Syrup From Corn Like High Fructose Corn Syrup?
Malt syrup and high fructose corn syrup are both sweeteners commonly used in food production. However, they are not the same thing.
Malt syrup is made from barley, while high fructose corn syrup is made from corn. The process of creating malt syrup involves malting, which is the same process used to make beer. Malting allows enzymes within the barley to cut its starches into smaller compounds, such as maltose, which is a simple sugar. Malt syrup contains primarily maltose, which makes it less sweet than other sweeteners.
On the other hand, high fructose corn syrup is made by converting a large proportion of corn syrup’s glucose into fructose. This process results in a sweeter product than malt syrup. High fructose corn syrup is commonly used in processed foods and beverages because it is cheaper than other sweeteners and enhances flavor.
What Is Malt Syrup?
Malt syrup is a food additive that is commonly used as a sweetener and preservative. It is made from barley through a process called malting, which involves sprouting and drying the barley. During this process, enzymes within the barley break down its starches into smaller compounds, including maltose, which is a simple sugar. The resulting syrup contains primarily maltose, making it less sweet than other sweeteners.
Malt syrup is often used in commercial food production because of its unique flavor and ability to enhance the taste of other ingredients. It has a consistency similar to honey and can be used as a glaze or in stir-fries and coatings for meat. In Korean cooking, malt syrup is often mixed with soy sauce and other seasonings to provide a light sweetening and an attractive glaze.
Malt syrup is different from dark heavy malt syrup used by brewers and bakers. It is also not to be confused with high fructose corn syrup, which is made from corn and has a much sweeter taste than malt syrup. Malt syrup is available in Korean markets in both clear and amber varieties, with the amber having a lighter malt flavor than Ssalyeot (rice syrup) which is 100% malted rice.
What Is High Fructose Corn Syrup?
High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is a liquid sweetener made from corn starch. The starch is first broken down into glucose by enzymes, similar to the production of conventional corn syrup. However, to make HFCS, the corn syrup is further processed using D-xylose isomerase to convert some of its glucose into fructose. The resulting product is a sweetener that is high in fructose compared to pure glucose found in corn syrup.
Different formulations of HFCS contain varying amounts of fructose, with the most common forms being HFCS 42 and HFCS 55. HFCS 42 contains 42% fructose and is mainly used in processed foods, cereals, baked goods, and some beverages. HFCS 55 contains 55% fructose and is primarily used in soft drinks.
HFCS has been compared to granulated sugar as a sweetener, but it has manufacturing advantages over sugar. It is easier to handle and cheaper to produce. The United States Food and Drug Administration states that there is no evidence showing that HFCS is less safe than traditional sweeteners such as sucrose and honey.
However, the consumption of HFCS has increased significantly over the years, with Americans getting most of their fructose intake from sweetened drinks, grains, and fruit or fruit juice. HFCS is commonly found in fast food items, breakfast cereals, bread and baked goods, sweetened dairy products like yogurts, candies, canned foods like soups and fruit, and soft drinks.
Differences In Production
The production process for malt syrup and high fructose corn syrup differ significantly. Malt syrup is made by malting barley, which involves allowing the grains to germinate briefly before interrupting the process to break down the starches into simple sugars like maltose. In contrast, high fructose corn syrup is made from corn starch that is hydrolyzed by acid and/or enzymes under various conditions to yield a range of different polymeric mixtures that include mono-, di-, and trisaccharides, as well as higher saccharides. This process results in a mixture of glucose and fructose molecules, with a composition that can vary somewhat but is generally in the range of 55% fructose and 42% glucose.
Another significant difference between malt syrup and high fructose corn syrup is their sweetness level. Malt syrup is less sweet than other sweeteners, primarily because it contains predominantly maltose. In contrast, high fructose corn syrup is much sweeter than malt syrup because of its higher fructose content. High fructose corn syrup is commonly used in processed foods and beverages because it enhances flavor and is cheaper than other sweeteners.
Nutritional Profile Comparison
When it comes to comparing the nutritional profiles of malt syrup and high fructose corn syrup, there are some notable differences. Firstly, malt syrup contains protein, which is not found in high fructose corn syrup. This makes malt syrup a better option for those looking to add some protein to their diet.
In terms of calories, both malt syrup and high fructose corn syrup have similar values. However, malt syrup has a lower glycemic index than high fructose corn syrup. This means that it is less likely to cause a spike in blood sugar levels, making it a better choice for those with diabetes or anyone looking to manage their blood sugar levels.
Furthermore, malt syrup is gluten-free and does not contain any fructose. This makes it a safer option for those with gluten intolerance or fructose malabsorption.
Health Concerns And Controversies
Despite their differences, both malt syrup and high fructose corn syrup have raised health concerns and controversies. High fructose corn syrup has been linked to various health issues, including obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and tooth decay. Many experts argue that the excessive consumption of high fructose corn syrup can lead to metabolic syndrome, which is a cluster of conditions that increase the risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.
While malt syrup is considered a healthier alternative to high fructose corn syrup, it still contains sugar and calories. Excessive consumption of malt syrup can also lead to health problems such as tooth decay and weight gain. However, malt syrup has a lower glycemic index than high fructose corn syrup, which means it doesn’t cause a rapid spike in blood sugar levels.
There is ongoing debate in the scientific community about whether high fructose corn syrup is more harmful to human health than other sweeteners. Some studies suggest that high fructose corn syrup may be more detrimental to health than other sweeteners because of its high fructose content. However, other studies have found no significant difference between the effects of high fructose corn syrup and other sweeteners.
Regardless of these debates, it is generally agreed upon that excessive consumption of any sweetener can lead to health problems. Therefore, it is recommended that individuals limit their intake of all sweeteners, including malt syrup and high fructose corn syrup, and opt for natural sweeteners such as honey or maple syrup in moderation.
Uses Of Malt Syrup And High Fructose Corn Syrup
Malt syrup and high fructose corn syrup have different uses in food production.
Malt syrup is commonly found in baked goods and breakfast cereals due to its not-so-sweet taste. It is also used in the production of Malta, a soft drink popular in many countries. Malt syrup is unique because of its protein content, which is not found in other sweeteners. It is considered a safe ingredient and does not fall into the same category as many other food additive syrups that are currently the subject of much debate and criticism.
High fructose corn syrup, on the other hand, is commonly used in the production of carbonated drinks, baked goods, and processed foods because it enhances flavor and is cheaper than other sweeteners. It is also used as a fermentable sugar, a sweetener, and humectant in baking applications such as breads, buns, rolls, yeast-raised donuts, and ice cream. In dairy products like chocolate milk, high fructose corn syrup enhances their textural and sparsity properties.
While both malt syrup and high fructose corn syrup are sweeteners used in food production, they have different uses based on their taste and properties. Malt syrup is less sweet than other sweeteners but has unique protein content, while high fructose corn syrup is sweeter than malt syrup and enhances flavor in processed foods and beverages.