Sweet And Healthy Treats
by Clement Opawumi

Of all the frozen desserts available in today’s market, ice cream is still one of the most favorable and sought after frozen products.
The category of “frozen dairy desserts” represents a variety of sweetened products such as ice cream, ice milk and sherbet, each of which may come in a number of different flavors. Traditional frozen desserts are generally sweetened with sucrose and/or high fructose corn syrup as well as corn syrups and corn syrup solids.
According to the latest statistics, the obese population is anticipated to reach nearly 700 million worldwide by the year 2015. Such statistics, among others, have Americans seeking out reduced-sugar and lower-calorie food products. The composition of the sweetener system in frozen desserts not only impacts product sweetness, but also texture and shelf-life stability.
In order to meet the consumer’s sensory expectations, any alternative sweetener used must have functionality and characteristics similar to sucrose. One way to cut calories is to reduce/restrict sugar intake; thus, product developers are looking for alternative sweeteners for food product development.
Formulating reduced sugar, no-sugar-added and/or sugar-free frozen desserts using Maltisweet‘ IC maltitol syrup offers consumers the indulgent taste, texture and sweetness similar to a full-sugar product.
Maltisweet IC maltitol syrup belongs to a class of polyols, also known as sugar alcohols. Polyols are metabolized in a manner that is different than traditional sugars — less readily available for absorption in the large intestine, which means it has minimal effect on blood glucose levels, an important attribute for diabetics. Maltitol is 90 percent as sweet as sugar, making it ideal for bulk replacement of sucrose.
In frozen desserts, careful management of the freezing point is very important; this property is very critical to how the product aerates and freezes as well as how it scoops and feels in the mouth when consumed. The molecular weight distribution of Maltisweet IC is very similar to that of sucrose/corn syrup, hence the similarities in the freezing point depression. Frozen desserts made with Maltisweet IC have freezing performance and heat-shock resistance superior to conventional ice cream.
With characteristics nearly identical to sucrose and corn syrup, this product can be used as a one-to-one direct replacement with or without the use of high-intensity sweeteners. It offers a pleasant-tasting, balanced sweetness and creamy texture with no aftertaste and fewer calories than sucrose. A no-sugar-added frozen dessert formulated using Maltisweet IC has about 75 percent less sugar and 45 percent fewer calories than conventional premium ice cream.
Results of sensory studies conducted at Penn State show that consumers found no-sugar-added vanilla ice cream formulated with Maltisweet IC tastes as good as Penn State’s University Creamery premium, full-sugar vanilla ice cream, with no significant differences in overall taste, texture and appearance. Other sensory studies conducted at Penn State, on a reduced fat (5 percent) no-sugar-added frozen dessert formulated using Maltisweet IC, show that the consumer significantly prefers the creaminess of the product formulated using Maltisweet IC to the sucrose control.
At the last IDFA Ice Cream Technology Conference held in Arizona in February 2007, Steve Young (Steven Young Worldwide, Houston) and Bruce Tharp (Tharp’s Food Technology, Wayne, Pa.) presented the concept of a true sugar-free frozen dairy dessert.
One of the key features of this breakthrough technology is using Maltisweet IC maltitol syrup as the only sweetener system. The result is a sugar-free frozen dessert that has a clean taste, excellent texture, ultra low-glycemic response and sweetness similar to a full-sugar ice cream, and contains no high-intensity sweeteners.
What is next on the horizon? SPI Polyols was recently acquired by Corn Products International, Westchester, Ill., expanding SPI’s abilities to meet consumer expectations. Together, SPI Polyols and GTC Nutrition, another business unit of Corn Products, can show you the advantages of a frozen dairy dessert or dairy beverage based on Maltisweet IC technology enhanced with NutraFlora® short-chain fructooligosaccharides (scFOS®), a prebiotic fiber that can provide health benefits such as improved calcium absorption, and strengthened digestive and immune systems. Or, products enhanced with OatVantage™ oat bran concentrate rich in beta glucan can help reduce LDL cholesterol and assist the body in maintaining healthy blood sugar levels.
At SPI Polyols, we have an experienced technical team and pilot facilities ready to assist you in delivering healthier products to the market quickly — without compromising on taste.
Clement Opawumi is a senior applications scientist at New Castle, Del.-based SPI Polyols Inc.