Nutritional Outlook

Nutritional Outlook, May 2018

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LAST BITE ■ NUTRITIONAL OUTLOOK 66 MAY 2018 Healthier Chocolate? Sweet! Innovation in the reduced-sugar healthy-chocolate space means consumers can have their chocolate and reap some health benefi ts, too. BY JENNIFER PRINCE, ASSOCIATE EDITOR T here was a time, not so long ago, when the concept of "healthy" chocolate seemed paradoxical. But today's consum- ers expect to be able to have it all—and chocolate is no exception. In recent years, chocolate manufacturers have been work- ing to innovate chocolate confections and snack bars that help consumers meet their health goals. Representatives from Cargill (Minneapo- lis), Ingredion (Westchester, IL), and cocoa supplier Barry Callebaut (Zurich, Switzer- land) tell Nutritional Outlook that sugar reduction remains one of the most popu- lar ways of improving the health prof le of a chocolate product. Julie Emsing Mann, global protein program manager, Ingredion, says that sugar content is still a key focus in the chocolate category for reasons including the push for sugar taxes in some countries, the addition an "added sugar" line on FDA's revised Nutrition Facts label here in the U.S., and the proliferation of front-of-pack calorie claims, among others. But reducing sugar is tricky because sugar generates much of the sweetness and texture in a chocolate product, says Fatemeh Khadem, senior technical ser- vices manager, Cargill Cocoa & Chocolate. Plus, using any sweetener other than cane sugar can increase manufacturing costs. According to Barry Callebaut's Mark Adri- aenssens, vice president, research and de- velopment, Americas, and Laura Bergan, director, innovation and market devel- opment, North America: "Any [sugar] re- placement or change in sweetening…typi- cally will mean a cost increase with the raw materials." They state that, at present, polyols such as the low-calorie sugar alco- hols erythritol and maltitol are more ex- pensive than cane sugar. So is stevia (Stevia rebaudiana), though stevia "is only used in small percentages within the chocolate recipe," they say. Today, stevia is one of the most popular zero-calorie sweeteners. T e high-intensity sweetener has come a long way since it f rst arrived on the scene, and Ingredion's Mann says that globally, an increasing number of premium low- or no-sugar confection- ery products are being formulated with stevia-based sweeteners. And formulating with stevia has never been easier : "T e challenge of balancing taste and meeting sugar-reduction targets with ste- via is no longer as daunting as it was for for- mulators. It requires the best-tasting stevia sweeteners, those without the bitter aftertaste, to allow for higher levels of sugar reduction." Mann says that SweeGen's Bestevia Reb M, a 95%-pure stevia leaf sweetener distrib- uted by Ingredion, provides a sugar-like taste, without the bitter aftertaste often associated with alternative sweeteners. But no matter which lower-calorie alter- native sweetener a manufacturer uses, it is "critically important that healthier chocolates still taste good," say Adriaenssens and Bergan. Finding the right ingredients that can serve as one-to-one replacers for sugar or fat, while retaining the same f avor and texture of the original product, is a challenge. Oftentimes, it requires ingredient trade-of s, they say. For instance, while stevia and other high-intensity sweeteners do a pretty good job of replacing sugar in chocolate, additional ingredients may be needed to achieve some of the other functional properties of sugar, says Ravi Nana, poly- ols technical service manager, Cargill. Cargill offers its zero-calorie natural Ze- rose erythritol, which Nana says replaces sugar's bulk at a one-to-one ratio and pairs well with the company's ViaTech or EverSweet stevia sweeteners. Both Barry Callebaut and Ingredion also embrace polyols as sugar replacers. Barry Callebaut of ers dark and milk no-sugar-added chocolates where erythritol functions as the main sugar replacer. Ingredion's polyols can also add sweet- ness to chocolate sauces and syrups without adding calories, says Afrouz Naeini, senior marketing manager, sweeteners and bever- age, Ingredion. Last year, Ingredion launched its portfolio of VersaSweet low-sugar syrups, from both corn and tapioca sources. Manufacturers can also reduce the sug- ar content of a chocolate product by add- ing a functional ingredient like fiber. Adri- aenssens and Bergan say Barry Callebaut has focused its innovation on growing its Sweet Refrain portfolio of reduced-sugar and sugar-free chocolates, whose sugar content is replaced by Barry Callebaut's proprietary fiber blend. Cargill's Oliggo-Fiber chicory root in- gredient can likewise provide formulators with an effective sugar alternative, says Pam Stauffer, global market programs manager, Cargill. "Mildly sweet in its own right, chicory root fiber can help modulate the flavor of some high-potency sweeten- ers," she says. Fiber also functions as a bulking agent, she adds, which can help to improve the texture and mouthfeel of a reduced-sugar chocolate product. SHUTTERSTOCKPHOTO.COM/ EKSPANSIO

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