The most notable function of sugar in the bakery is its sweet taste but it also contributes to the flavor and texture profile of the product. Excessive sugar consumption is considered as the main factor for triggering non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and obesity faced by the world. Sugar reduction is challenging in the bakery as it interacts with all the ingredients causing changes in gelatinization temperature, gluten development, yeast activity, and emulsification. To replace the lost functionality one or more additional ingredients have to be added.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, people are leading a sedentary lifestyle causing high demand for sugar substitutes. The market revenue of sugar substitutes is rising because of consumer demand for low-calorie food to make healthy eating habits. Strategies to reduce sugar mainly focus on sugar reduction by the addition of bulking agents and high intensive sweeteners or sweet bulking ingredients such as polyols. Scientists have been grappling with the question of how to replace sugar in baked products with healthier sugar alternatives. The main issue with lowering sugar content is maintaining product quality in terms of shelf life. Browning, crystallization, control of starch, protein thermal setting, structure, body, viscosity moisture control, and humidity.
World Health Organization is working on strategies to reduce sugar intake by featuring educational methods and innovative marketing techniques for various communities, media, governments, and industries and many emerging start-ups are providing solutions for the reduction of sugar in food manufacturing to satisfy the increasing demand consumers.
For millennia, sourdough has been used to improve product quality in bread, with the added benefit of lowering the glycaemic index of bread. Furthermore, the desire for ‘clean label’ products is growing.
Sourdough in bakery items has been shown to naturally extend shelf life through the development of antifungal chemicals produced by lactic acid bacteria. Some lactic acid bacteria (LAB) and yeast strains are known to produce polyol and/or exopolysaccharides (EPS). In bread products, naturally occurring sugar alcohols can contribute to sweetness and flavor, while EPS acts as a bulking agent, improving dough stability and texture. This section covers how sourdough is used in traditional bakery items and how various LAB and yeast strains produce polyol.
A properly selected LAB and yeast strains in a controlled sourdough fermentation could be a revolutionary technical approach to overcoming quality losses in sugar-reduced baked items.
Combination of bulking agents with artificial sweeteners
To ensure the techno-functional properties and sweetness of sugar-reduced bakery products, one approach to sugar reduction is a combination of non-sweet bulking agents and high-intensive sweeteners. Only for specific nutritional purposes are artificial sweeteners permitted as food additives in fine bakery products. The maximum dosage varies depending on the type of sweetener and ranges from 50 to 1000 mg/kg. Natural high-intensity sweeteners include steviol glycosides, stevioside, and rebaudioside A. Long-chain polysaccharides, such as starches, polydextrose, maltodextrin, hydrocolloids, and dietary fibres, act as bulking agents as well as functional ingredients. The addition of bulking agents compensates for the loss of texture and volume when sugar is reduced.
Sweet bulking agents- polyols
Polyols are sugar alcohols that are made by reducing sugars chemically or biochemically, or by fermenting sugars with lactic acid bacteria or yeast. Although polyols appear to be beneficial to one’s health, there are some disadvantages to be aware of. Sugar alcohols cannot be fermented and are absorbed slowly, causing osmotic diarrhea if consumed in large amounts. Mannitol, sorbitol, maltitol, erythritol, isomalt, xylitol, and lactitol are examples of food additives. Cakes with xylitol as a sugar substitute had more consistent volume and less crumb hardness. When mannitol was substituted for sugar in biscuits, the dough firmness increased.
The seven sweet-tasting proteins currently known are thaumatin, miraculin, curculin, monellin, mabinlin, pentadin, brazzein, and thaumatin. They were all discovered in African or Asian fruits. Thaumatin, which is listed as E957 (Regulation (EU) No 2018/677), is the only sweet protein approved as a flavour enhancer in certain foods. Brazzein is a single-chain protein. It is the most heat-stable (up to 98 degrees Celsius). Brazzein has already been expressed in yeast, and grains have used the protein to make carbohydrate-free muffins by expressing it in corn. Brazzein, on the other hand, has not been approved as a food additive by the FDA.
Regulations in Sugar Reduction
In 2022, WHO/Europe will establish a new, voluntary, Member State-led Sugar and Calorie Reduction Network to promote better diets and lower levels of overweight and obesity across the WHO European Region. The Network will bring together policymakers and health specialists from the Region’s 53 member countries to research solutions for reducing sugar and calories while respecting national food systems and food traditions, as well as the regulatory environment. The United Kingdom will lead the Network for the first three years.
The WHO European Programme of Work (EPW) 2020–2025 aims to promote European health by creating a healthier environment and assisting policy development.
Arboreal Stevia (India)
The company produces different grades of stevia extracts varying in taste and performance as sweeteners plant-based products by using non-GMO stevia leaves. It is a natural sweetener having unique sensory and functional properties. They offer enzymatically extracted stevia extract via bioprocessing that can be used as flavours and flavour modifiers. It uses proprietary knowledge of stevia to help reduce sugar in food manufacturing while maintaining the taste.
Lili’s Gourmix (Greensboro, US)
The company Lili’s Gourmix offers nutrient-dense baking mixes as a healthy alternative. The product portfolio includes a wide variety of savory and sweet premixes. The bag-to-oven gourmet mixes are gluten-free, sugar-free, keto & paleo-friendly, as well as safe for diabetics & celiacs.
Sweegen (California, US)
Sweegen is a California-based start-up that focuses on sugar substitutes for the food and beverage industry. The solution includes the incorporation of stevia, their proprietary technology provides sweetness, bulking property, and mouthfeel to the bakery products. The company uses Bioconversion Technology for non-GMO, in-demand solutions.
The proprietary technology claims 1:1 equivalency in sweetness and body, it is rich in fibres and offers great taste with fewer calories. It is made from 100% natural botanical ingredients. The technology is minimally processed. It Complies with MOH Regulations, WHO directives, FDA/EFSA regulations & taxation with Non-GMO claims.
DouxMatok has an Intellectual Property portfolio based on its technology platform that has 24 granted patents. The products are compliant with the FDA and with EFSA and are manufactured with sustainable green chemistry principles. Sugar is reduced up to 30-60% while maintaining the same taste and texture.
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