THERE have been lots of reports from chocolate monoliths such as Cadbury and Thornton's of increases in sales despite the difficult financial climate. With Euromonitor estimating the confectionery market to be worth US$171 billion in 2010, it seems consumers are continuing to turn to this "feel good" food no matter what the economic climate.
With consumers placing increasing importance on all things "natural" and "health and well-being", it looks like many manufacturers will be following the lead taken by producers in Belgium and Switzerland – where there are numerous chocolate products available with added health benefits derived from natural ingredients. The key issue for manufacturers looking to provide consumers with a healthy alternative will be how to build in "health" and "natural" benefits, whilst also maintaining a great taste and indulgent sensation?
To add health benefits to chocolate, Beneo offers functional ingredients derived from natural sources. They provide manufacturers nutritional and technological benefits that can improve the taste and texture of a product whilst providing additional health benefits to consumers.
Derived from the chicory root, Orafti inulin is a source of dietary fibre which, when incorporated into products such as chocolate, can improve digestive health and allow an added fibre claim to be made. When consumed, inulin is not digested, but reaches the large intestine intact where it ferments. When this happens, the beneficial bifidobacteria are selectively stimulated at the expense of harmful bacteria. This is known as the bifidogenic, or prebiotic, effect. A healthy intestinal flora means that the digestive system works better which is beneficial to well being and health. Research also shows that when their digestive system is working well, people feel better. By incorporating Orafti inulin into chocolate products, manufacturers can develop products which can have a real benefit on the digestive health of consumers. With regular intake of inulin and oligofructose at levels of 5 grams each day, the bifidobacteria are stimulated and increased.
Supporting better bone health
Proven to boost bone health in studies involving adolescents, but also postmenopausal women and young adults, Orafti Synergy1 has been repeatedly shown to give this benefit by increasing calcium absorption. A key study in adolescents, carried out at the Children's Nutrition Research Centre, Baylor College of Medicine, Texas, found an improvement of calcium absorption by around 20%, but also of bone mineral content and bone mineral density after one year of supplementation with this oligofructose-enriched inulin. This increase in calcium absorption was translated into significantly higher amounts of calcium available to the bones. This substantial benefit for bone health can be achieved with intakes of 8 grams of Synergy1 per day.
With Palatinose, Beneo offers manufacturers an isomaltulose that is the first fully digestible carbohydrate truly kind to teeth. This disaccharide derived from beet sugar. It is processed like sucrose and therefore the non-cariogenic carbohydrate can easily be applied to confectionery and snacks such as chocolate, cereal bars, dairy products and beverages.
The tooth-friendliness of Palatinose has been scientifically proven by means of the so-called inter-dental plaque-pH telemetry. In this procedure a probe is directly attached to the tooth and the pH value in the mouth is measured before, during and after the consumption of the test product. If it doesn't drop below a value of 5.7 till half an hour after consumption, the product is considered non-cariogenic.
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