GNZ Bioscience

Malt Magic – Discover the Sweet Secrets of Malt!

By Dr. Suki Harding

Malt extract is a concentrated syrup made from barley. It is the key ingredient in our Malt Elixir, which can be used to sweeten your Vital Burst shot or be taken on its own or with food and beverages for a quick energy boost.

Barley is an ancient grain that has been consumed by people for over 10,000 years [1]. Its health benefits such as immune support, digestive health and energy boost properties have been recognised by many cultures for millennia.

More recently, over the last 100+ years, malt extract made from barley has been given to pregnant mothers as an iron rich, energy giving, nausea reducing tonic.

Despite its use as a key ingredient in popular confectionary and beverages for many decades, the nutritional benefits of malt extract have been studied and appreciated only in recent times [1].

Health Benefits of Malt

When malted barley is mixed with hot water, natural enzymes break down the starch in the whole grain into sugars, mostly maltose. After filtration of insoluble matter, most of the goodness of barley grains remain in the extract.

Malt contains a wide range of polyphenols with anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antimicrobial, anti-allergic, anti-cancer, anti-diabetic, cardioprotective, neuroprotective properties [1]. Some of the bioactives in malt are linked to skin and bone health.

It also contains a wide range of other nutrients including essential amino acids, soluble fibres, vitamin B2, B3 and B6, iron, calcium, potassium, magnesium, manganese and selenium. Refined sugar and artificial sweeteners do not contain any of these nutrients.

Magnificent Maltose

Nearly all added sugars are high in fructose that is toxic to the liver [2]. High consumption of fructose from added sugar is linked to obesity, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), and non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). About 25% of NASH patients will progress on to non-alcoholic liver cirrhosis which requires a liver transplant or else it can lead to death.

Table sugar and even healthy sounding organic cane syrup contain 50% fructose. High fructose corn syrup that is added to many processed foods contains over 50% fructose.

In contrast, maltose contains very little fructose: less than 1%.

Maltose is a simple disaccharide sugar with two bonded glucose molecules that easily break down into glucose that can be used to deliver energy to every cell in the body.

  • Muscle cells obtain glucose from the blood for a quick energy boost.
  • Glucose is the preferred energy source for the brain.
  • Glucose is the only energy source for red blood cells.


If you are have celiac disease or on a gluten-free diet, malt syrup may not be ideal for you since it could contain glutens from the barley raw material and may not meet highest gluten-free standards [3].

Unsurprisingly, daily consumption of large quantities of maltose is not recommended since it can exacerbate obesity and related parameters such as body mass index (BMI) and plasma cholesterol levels [4].


[1] Targan A. (2020) Malt: An ancient food with modern benefits, 30 March 2020

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[2] Sugar Science, The Toxic Truth: Too much fructose can damage your liver, just like too much alcohol, << >>

[3] Keller, A. (2019). Timely Topics in Gluten-Free Labelling,  PRACTICAL GASTROENTEROLOGY.

[4] Shibazaki, N. et al. (2022) Maltose consumption exacerbates high-fat diet-induced overweight and related parameters in mice. Functional Foods in Health and Disease, 12(11), 680-692.

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