Writing in the journal LWT Food Science & Technology, María José Tavera-Quiroz and colleagues developed a crispy snack sweetened with isomalt and assessed its physical, chemical and sensory properties and stability during storage.
Introducing their study, the team note that sugar alcohols or polyols are typical sucrose replacers in baked foods, and their advantages include suitability for diabetics (due to a lower glycemic response and are non-cariogenic or ‘tooth friendly’. (A positive European Food Safety Authority opinion reinforces both these benefits; see the document embedded below.)
But Tavera-Quiroz et al. say that to their knowledge there is “hardly any study discussing the addition of isomalt to snacks and there is no data about snack’s behavior during storage”.
“Isomalt…is used in food products as a non-cariogenic nutritive sweetener. Its use had a protective effect on the apple tissue submitted to high temperatures, since the snack had good quality attributes and also preserved the added ascorbic acid during the baking process,” they add.
In this study the team used steamed apple slices cooled immersed in aqueous solutions of isomalt (which is based on sucrose derived from beet sugar), maltodextrin and (in one iteration) calcium lactate, which were then baked at 140C for 30 minutes.
Aside from positive physical (and by extension organoleptic qualities) the authors also highlight the snack’s nutritional benefits – since green apples are rich in fiber, minerals, vitamins and antioxidants.
'Snack could contribute to weight control' - lead author, María José Tavera-Quiroz
Lead author María José Tavera-Quiroz told BakeryAndSnacks.com that the snack could be suitable for those interested in weight control, an area that also impinges on satiety and energy provision.
“In principle, it would be a snack that might contribute to the control of weight because it provides approximately 110Kcal/100g according to the calculations realized taking the contributions of carbohydrates into account,” she said.
“The Low GI means that isomalt is absorbed slowly, therefore it also liberates energy gradually. Nevertheless, it would be necessary to perform nutritional specific studies on the snack to be able to affirm this premise with certainty,” she added.
A Mintel research paper from January 2015 notes that ‘sustained energy’ claims are spreading across the food industry, driven by the hectic pace of modern life; while energy drinks might provide ‘fast energy’, interest is growing in slow-release energy, delivered via grains and protein.
While product positioning largely hangs on ‘sustained energy’ to ‘get you through the day’, Mintel says some brands also tap the satiety and weight management space.
Slow-burning energy gains ground
Laura-Daisy Jones, Mintel food science analyst, said: “Ingredients from protein to wholegrains and complex carbohydrates to soluble fibers are being utilized more for their supply of slow-burning energy.”
The research firm adds that new products launched globally carrying a sustained energy claim have grown considerably in snacks and bakery since 2010 – the respective per category percentages were 11% and 15% in 2010, but hit 18% and 22% last year.
The standout success in bakery and snacks is Belvita Breakfast (£9.58m/$14.86m sales in the UK alone), while recent snack bar launches include Pulsin’ Orange Choc Chip Protein Snack (also high in slow release carbs).
Weetabix relies on ‘fuel your day’ as a key message on its UK breakfast cereals, however the brand was censured by the nation’s ads watchdog in 2012 for using ‘slow release energy’ on pack.
From a carbohydrate standpoint, slow release energy correlates with a low GI – low GI products (for instance, foods high in soluble fiber) are harder to digest, preventing a spike in blood glucose levels as energy is released gradually over time.
Sugar polyol isomalt under-utilized in snacks?
The Argentinian researchers also used maltodextrin to decrease the stickiness of the dehydrated snack and increase its stability.
Tavera-Quiroz said it was used to improve the baking process and as a stabilizer to help increase the snack’s glass transition temperature (Tg) – the temperature at which materials pass from a hard, relatively brittle state to a molten or rubber-like state
“With both carbohydrates isomalt and maltodextrin, an osmotic dehydration was realized, contributing to the water loss, without losing the solids necessary to support the tissue structure,” she said.
“Moreover, the addition of isomalt does not favor the development of the caramelization process, thus it improves the organoleptic properties of the snack (color, flavor) by allowing us to bake at temperatures as high as 140C,” Tavera-Quiroz told this site.
“A snack with good properties in terms of texture, color and taste was developed with the addition of calcium, maltodextrin and isomalt to apple rings, with no fat or sodium added as well as with good consumer acceptance,” the team concluded in their study.
“The presence of isomalt allowed baking at 140C for a short time without detriment to the quality attributes. This is an innovative food product since isomalt has hardly been used to formulate snacks.”
Title: 'Baked snack from green apples formulated with the addition of isomalt'
Authors: María José Tavera-Quiroz, Marina Urriza, Adriana Pinotti, Nora Bertola
Source: LWT - Food Science and Technology, accepted February 10 2015, doi:10.1016/j.lwt.2015.02.009