Keep desserts sweet with less sugar

by Jeff Gelski
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Numbers on excessive caloric intake in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010 had grain-based desserts at the top of the list. Reducing the amount of sugar in grain-based desserts may cut down on the calorie numbers, and help improve their health image. Adding fiber is another image-building option. Thanks to ingredient innovations, both tasks may occur at once.

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010, using statistics from NHANES 2005-2006, showed people in the United States consume more calories (138) per capita per day from grain-based desserts than from any other food category. Grain-based desserts include cakes, cookies, pies, cobblers, sweet rolls, pastries and donuts. The guidelines added many grain-based desserts are high in added sugars and solid fats.

Reducing sugar, at 4 calories per gram, should lead to a reduction in calories in desserts. Companies may even want to promote the reduced calories in their products instead of the reduced sugar, said Jon Sigel, senior bakery applications specialist for Danisco and based in New Century, Kas. People may associate products promoted for reduced fat or reduced sugar as having a negative taste more so than they would products promoted for reduced calories.

“We get a lot of requests for a reduction in calories,” he said. “We’re accomplishing the sugar reduction because we have to reduce calories.”

Still, sugar long has worked as an ingredient in desserts, and not just for its sweetness.

“Sugar is a superb ingredient for baked goods,” said John Fry, a principal consultant for Cargill Health and Nutrition who is based in England. “It is ideally suited to that application.”

Taking sugar out of baked foods leaves manufacturers with two challenges, he said. For one, they must replace the sweetness of the sugar. Additionally, manufacturers have to replace sugar’s functionality.

High-intensity sweeteners, in-cluding natural ones, may take care of the first challenge. Inulin and polydextrose may replace sugar’s functionality along with adding fiber to the product.

“If you take out 20% of the sugar, you have got to put 20% of something else back in to maintain your total batch weight,” Mr. Sigel said of bulking agents.

Natural sweeteners

Natural extracts from stevia plants have been used as sweeteners in beverages since the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in December 2008 said it had no objections for the use of certain stevia extracts in foods and beverages. Now, research is focusing on how to add the high-intensity sweeteners to grain-based foods.

Zenith International estimates worldwide sales of stevia reached 3,500 tonnes in 2010, a 27% increase from 2009. Zenith International forecasts the global market for stevia by 2014 will reach 11,000 tonnes, equivalent to $825 million by value.

Monkfruit, also known as luo han guo, is another natural high-intensity sweetener. Tate & Lyle, which has a U.S. office in Decatur, Ill., in April announced it had entered into a five-year strategic partnership with BioVittoria Ltd. for the exclusive global marketing and distribution rights for BioVittoria’s monkfruit. It will be marketed in the United States under the Purefruit brand name.

Tate & Lyle will support the development of the line of Purefruit products with sales, research, marketing and product development. BioVittoria, based in New Zealand, will continue management of the monkfruit extract supply chain, including seeding cultivation, the grower network and natural processing.

High-intensity sweeteners in baked foods, unlike those in beverages, need the assistance of bulking agents to reduce sugar.

“The ideal bulking agent is something that behaves like sugar, but it doesn’t carry the energy penalty, the calorie penalty of sugar,” Dr. Fry said.

Erythritol and inulin are two bulking agents that allow a product to keep its natural characteristics, he said. If a company is not worried whether a product is natural or not, the company may use maltodextrin or any of the polyols as a bulking agent.

Dr. Fry has consulted with Cargill recently to add stevia extracts to baked foods. He said stevia extracts handle the heat of baking well and the extracts also work well in pie filling and toppings.

Combinations of products from Corn Products International, Westchester, Ill., that may be used to reduce sugar in grain-based desserts include a choice of polyols, the company’s Enliten stevia-based sweetener, dextrose, maltodextrin and corn syrup solids, said Eric Shinsato, specialist staff technical service-sweetener solutions, Corn Products International.

Companies also may take cost-effective measures to create reduced-sugar, grain-based desserts affordable for use in school lunch programs, he said.

“Currently most full-calorie sweeteners, such as dextrose and corn syrups, are more cost-effective than sucrose,” he said. “By replacing the sugar with a combination of polyols, stevia, fibers and dextrose, and/or corn syrups, it may be possible to reach caloric reduction at a feasible cost per serving to meet specific guidelines of the school lunch program.”

Corn Products International recently acquired National Starch Food Innovation, Bridgewater, N.J., a company known for providing texture benefits to products.

“The products and expertise of National Starch Food Innovation and Corn Products International can work together not only to reduce sugar in grain-based desserts but also to achieve the desired texture and sensory characteristics when the sugar is removed,” Mr. Shinsato said. “The key lies in the ability of the combined applications and analytical groups to understand, define and implement statistical and sensory-based methods that deliver consistent and predictable results based on in-depth knowledge of our starch and sweetener ingredients and how they function individ-ually and synergistically in food formulations.”

Adding fiber

Ingredient companies have created prototypes to show how sugar may be reduced and fiber added in baked foods.

Tate & Lyle offered banana bread at the Institute of Food Technologists’ annual meeting and food exposition in June in New Orleans. The bread was reduced in sugar by 41% when compared to banana bread sweetened with sucrose. It featured a blend of Promitor soluble corn fiber, Purefruit and Krystar crystalline fructose.

Dr. Fry said Cargill replaced 50% of the sugar in a muffin by using a mixture of erythritol, inulin and the company’s stevia-based sweetener Truvia rebiana. The muffin also had 3 grams of fiber per 55-gram serving thanks to the inulin.

“Inulin and oligofructose are natural food ingredients commonly found in foods such as vegetables, wheat, onion, bananas, garlic and chicory,” said The Calorie Control Council, an international non-profit association representing the low-calorie food and beverage industry and based in Atlanta. “Most of the inulin and oligofructose commercially available is either derived from sucrose or extracted from chicory roots. Inulin and oligofructose each contribute one and a half calories per gram, which allows these ingredients to increase the fiber content of foods while reducing calories. Research has found that inulin and oligofructose may lower triglyceride and blood cholesterol levels in people with high cholesterol.”

Polydextrose is another source of fiber that comes with health benefits.

“Recently, polydextrose has been incorporated into many reduced carbohydrate products, as it has only 1 calorie per gram compared to typical carbohydrates with 4 calories per gram,” The Calorie Control Council said. “Litesse polydextrose, for example, has been used to develop reduced-calorie, sugar-free products that are a good source of prebiotic fiber. Polydextrose is resistant to digestion in the small intestine but is partially fermented in the large intestine, contributing beneficial effects consistent with dietary fibers.”

Danisco plans to expand production of its Litesse polydextrose at an existing facility in Terre Haute, Ind. The expansion will bring a 30% increase in capacity and will offer scope for further increases in the future.

Litesse polydextrose has no flavor and does not affect crumb characteristics, Danisco’s Mr. Sigel said. A soluble fiber, it hydrates baked foods to bind water. Polydextrose especially has seen use in 100-calorie products, he said.

“It’s in there at very high levels,” Mr. Sigel said.

Polydextrose needs a partner in reduced-sugar baked food applications. It takes on the role of bulking agent, but since polydextrose has no flavor, high-intensity sweeteners are needed to provide sweetness, Mr. Sigel said.

Ingredient tools to reduce sugar

Reducing sugar in baked foods may be accomplished by combining high-intensity sweeteners with bulking agents. Here are examples:

Erylite stevia: Jungbunzlauer offers the ingredient, which is a blend of Erylite (the company’s brand of erythritol) as the bulking agent and stevia plant extract as the high-intensity sweetener. It works as a 1:1 sugar replacement in foods and beverages.

Inulin: A source of fiber, inulin often comes from chicory root. Branded inulin ingredients include Oliggo-Fiber from Cargill, OraftiSynergy1 from Beneo, and Frutalose SF75 from Sensus. At the Institute of Food Technologists’ annual meeting and food exposition in New Orleans in June, Sensus promoted Frutalose SF75 with the slogan “sugars out — fiber in.”

Litesse polydextrose: Danisco offers the bulking agent that also adds fiber.

Monkfruit: Tate & Lyle has entered into a partnership with BioVittoria Ltd. for the exclusive global marketing and distribution right for BioVittoria’s monkfruit. A high-intensity sweetener, monkfruit also is known as luo han guo.

No-sugar-added chocolate: Barry Callebaut this year introduced no-sugar-added chocolate sweetened with an extract from the stevia plant. Inulin and corn dextrin provide the blend’s fiber. Erythritol is a bulking agent.

Stevia: Branded high-intensity sweeteners extracted from the stevia plant include Truvia from Cargill, Enliten from Corn Products International and SweetLeaf from Wisdom Natural Brands.

Splenda sucralose: Tate & Lyle plans to restart production at its Splenda sucralose facility in McIntosh, Ala., in the first half of the 2013 fiscal year. The company also produces Splenda sucralose, a high-intensity sweetener, at a Singapore facility.

European Commission approves stevia’s use in some foods

The European Commission has authorized the use of steviol glycoside in certain foodstuffs, paving the way for the sweetener to be placed in the E.U. market as early as 2012. Steviol glycoside is extracted from the stevia plant. The extracts are up to 300 times as sweet as sugar. One use of the sweetener is in low-calorie drinks.

“The text will now be subject to the scrutiny of the European Parliament,” the Commission said following the July 4 vote. “At the end of the procedure, steviol glycoside could be authorized in the E.U. by the end of the year.”

The European Food Safety Authority (E.F.S.A.) evaluated the safety of steviol glycosides and published its opinion in March 2010. At that time, the E.F.S.A. concluded steviol glycoside is not carcinogenic, genotoxic or associated with any reproductive or developmental toxicity.

In issuing its approval, the Commission proposed a reduction in the maximum usage levels for steviol glycosides, which would allow a significant replacement of sugar in foodstuffs with steviol glycoside.

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