12 January - 20 June 2016

Plant-based sweeteners may help individuals control their blood glucose levels

Scientists from New Zealand have investigated substituting sucrose in muffins, using different levels of two plant based sweeteners, on glycaemic response. Gao et al. also examined whether the sugar substitutions, stevianna, and inulin, affected the textural properties of the cakes.

Scientists from New Zealand have investigated substituting sucrose in muffins, using different levels of two plant based sweeteners, on glycaemic response. Gao et al. also examined whether the sugar substitutions, stevianna, and inulin, affected the textural properties of the cakes.   The study published in the International Journal of Food Science and Technology notes that sugar, which has a high glycaemic index, is one of the main ingredients of muffins and contributes to the cakes texture and taste.  Foods with a high glycaemic index can cause a rise in postprandial blood glucose and insulin levels after consumption. 

The scientists used a standard control recipe which incorporated 69.2 g of sugar.  The replacement levels of sugar used were at 50% (35 g) and 100% (69.2 g) for both stevianna and inulin. No other changes were made to the recipe.  After baking the firmness and springiness of the muffins were investigated.  Using an in vitro method reported by Woolnough et al., which mimics stomach digestion, Gao et al. analysed potential glycaemic response. 

The study found that compared to the control, the 100% sucrose replacement muffins had significantly higher firmness values, with the effect being more pronounced in the 100% inulin replacement cakes.  This is in agreement with previous studies which suggest that the increased firmness might be due to “either the decreased stiffness of the foams or premature starch gelatinisation.”  The muffins with 50% replacement of sucrose with steviannia are reported to have similar firmness values to the control. There was no significant difference in springiness between the 50% stevianna and 50% inulin muffins.  The springiness of muffins formulated with 100% stevianna was reported to have increased. Previous study findings (using other sweeteners and inulin) have been inconsistent regarding springiness, with some reporting a decrease in springiness in sugar-free muffins.  Gao et al. state that “this inconsistency may be due to the different types of constituents in the muffins recipes and indicated that muffins springiness can be improved by replacing sucrose with stevianna.” The study notes that this may indicate that muffin texture might depend on the type and concentration of the sucrose replacement used. 

Regarding glycaemic response, the team report “the addition of stevianna and inulin to muffins was found to depress reducing sugar release by digestive enzymes and thus reduce the potential glycaemic impact with increasing amounts of sugar replacer.” Findings from previous research using different in vivo digestion methods have shown that the interaction between stevia and other food components can influence postprandial glucose and insulin levels in humans. 

In conclusion Gao et al. reiterate their findings stating that textural properties are dependent on the level of sugar replacement, with 100% sugar replacement increasing firmness.  However at levels of 50% replacement of sugar the muffins were similar to the control muffins for texture, firmness and springiness.  Further research is need to investigate the consumer acceptability of the low sugar muffins.

RSSL's Product and Ingredient Innovation Team, has considerable expertise in the selection of sweeteners (both carbohydrate and high potency) to optimise sweetness profiles to cost requirements in a broad range of product categories.  Evaluation of new sweeteners for their market potential is also available.  For more information please contact Customer Services on Freephone 0800 243482 or email enquiries@rssl.com

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