The health and wellness trend has become more nuanced in recent years than simply reaching for specific claims: reduced fat, reduced sugar, reduced sodium. In fact, some of these claims might be enough to put consumers off because they can be associated with bad taste. Regardless of what consumers say they want when it comes to healthy food, if it tastes bad, they won’t buy it again.
Consumers approach their healthy eating holistically. Not only do they want to reduce their calorie and sugar intake, but they also want more positive attributes like fiber and protein.
“As consumers take a more proactive approach to their overall health and well-being, they are increasingly scrutinizing product labels,” said Jeff Hodges, bakery, snacks and pastry researcher, ADM. “Many seek to reduce calories and limit added or total sugars, as these bits usually go together.”
When cutting calories in baked foods, formulators often turn to sugar because of the number of calories it provides. Sugar is worth 4 Cal per gram, so cutting it out or even reducing it can have a significant impact on calorie count, and it’s also appealing to health-conscious consumers.
“Consumers are concerned about the negative impact of sugar on their diets when it comes to overall health, including weight management and blood sugar management,” said Kyle Krause, product manager, functional fiber and carbohydrates. , North America, Beneo. “That’s why, when choosing a sugar reduction strategy, the choice of sugar substitutes must either provide significant health benefits or not be harmful to the body in the way they are metabolized.”
Sugar doesn’t just lend its sweet flavor to baked goods. Depending on the application, sugar can also provide other functionality, such as swelling, which provides much of the structure, mouthfeel, and texture of a finished product. For this reason, formulators often recommend that bakers use a holistic approach to reducing sugar so that no functionality is lost.
“Reducing the amount of sugar in formulations can also help reduce overall calories, and this reduction is possible because many current sugar replacement ingredients are also lower in calories,” said Eric Shinsato, senior project manager, innovation and technical service, Ingredion. Inc. “Depending on the level of calorie reduction desired, a single ingredient may work, but a combination of ingredients is often required to achieve a higher calorie reduction claim. Other factors, such as target market, labeling, cost and availability, also impact ingredient selection. For example, keto-like products require very low sugar and carb content and often have a somewhat clean label. Allulose, erythritol, fiber and stevia are typically found in these products to meet these requirements,” he continued.
Shinsato estimated that, depending on the ingredient solutions used, bakers could reduce calories from sugar by 50% to 100%.
However, this ingredient solution largely depends on what the sugar does in the formulation. Understanding how sugar works in a bakery application and what the baker’s parameters and goals are will be critical as formulators use sugar reduction as a vehicle to reduce calories.
This article is an excerpt from the July 2022 issue of Baking & Snack. To read the full article on calorie reduction, Click here.