Less sugar in the diet equals lower body weights and healthier blood glucose levels. Consumers make the connection easily, but doctors will tell you that it’s not that simple. Even so, calls from health advocates get louder all the time to cut the amount of added sugars in processed foods.

Bakers won’t find it easy to answer this challenge because sugar provides their products with functionality and flavor. “The role of sugars in baked foods is complex,” said Carl Jaundoo, PhD, associate program coordinator, Roquette America, Inc., Geneva, IL. The sweetening alternative selected must have chemical properties similar to those of the sugar being replaced.

Baking & Snack: What sugar-sparing strategies do you advise bakery formulators to follow?

Carl Jaundoo: The role of sugars in baked foods is complex. While the primary function is to provide sweetness, sugars also provide bulk and contribute to the texture of the finished product. The most important consideration when replacing some or all of the sugars is to match the properties of the sugar being replaced with an alternative sweetener(s) with similar chemical properties.

What ingredients does Roquette America offer for bakery and snack applications that reduce the amount of sugar in such foods?

Roquette offers several bulk sugar replacers including SweetPearl Maltitol, LYCASIN Maltitol Syrup, NEOSORB Sorbitol, XYLISORB Xylitol and POLYSORB Polyglucitols.

How does this work? What is the mechanism that allows these ingredients to reduce overall sugar content? Or cut the finished products glycemic index? What usage and/or substitution levels are required?

When replacing sugars, there are several functional properties which must be matched. While sweetness is a key attribute, it is essential that the bulking characteristics of the sugars (crystalline or liquid) be balanced by the alternative sweetener(s). Sugar alcohols or polyols provide sweetness and bulk.

Sugar alcohols vary in sweetness. For example, Xylitol has the same sweetness as sucrose. Maltitol, the most widely used sugar replacer in baked foods, has a sweetness equivalent of 90, i.e. it is about 90% as sweet as sucrose. From the wide variety of sugar alcohols available, food formulators can customize sweetener solutions to create sugar-free or reduced-sugar products to match the equivalent sugar product.

Can you point to baked foods already on the market that achieve such results?

There are several sugar-free baked foods which are commercially available nationally. In this segment, cookies (shortbread, chocolate chip, iced and sandwich cookies), pies, cakes, brownies and bread are available under different trade names.

Looking at current uses of your ingredients in such formulations, how would you recommend their use be improved? Be made more effective in reducing the amounts of added sugars?

Food formulators have successfully replaced sugars in baked foods through a combination of bulk sugar replacers such as crystalline Maltitol and Maltitol syrups.

However, with consumers looking for interesting new eating experiences, food formulators can develop innovative products by varying the combinations of the different polyols available. For example, varying the amount of Maltitol syrup, in combination with crystalline Maltitol, will influence the chewiness of a cookie.

How must these materials be labeled in the ingredient listing on packages?

SweetPearl Maltitol is labeled as Maltitol. LYCASIN is labeled as Maltitol Syrup. NEOSORB is labeled as Sorbitol while XYLISORB is labeled as Xylitol. POLYSORB is labeled as Polyglucitol.