Article contributed by Christian Philippsen, Managing Director, BENEO Asia Pacific
For many of us, a new year symbolises fresh beginnings. When it comes to new year resolutions, being healthier continues to occupy the top spots for a vast majority of people. But this is often easier said than done. With upcoming celebrations like the Lunar New Year right around the corner, consumers will be further challenged to uphold their resolutions while still being able to indulge in the festive snacks.
This preference for healthier options is a good opportunity for food manufacturers to leverage. In fact, research from FMCG Gurus on behalf of BENEO shows that there is an overriding demand for healthy ingredients as consumers’ increasingly want to eat healthier, due to the pandemic.
In addition, another recent study from BENEO showed that nearly half of consumers aged 50+ look for food to help them manage blood sugar levels. With South-East Asia accounting for 90 million diabetics, there’s a clear market for healthier alternatives that can help consumers better manage their blood glucose levels.
It all begins with a low-glycemic diet
The good news is that scientific studies have shown that reducing blood sugar levels is relevant to health and the prevention of lifestyle-related diseases like diabetes. To enable that, carbohydrate-based foods with low or reduced glycaemic properties should be the preferred food choices.
Low glycaemic diets are characterised by low blood glucose levels and correspondingly low insulin levels, which allows for a more balanced blood glucose response. This supports health and wellbeing in the long term, and benefits people of all age groups who thrive for a healthy diet and lifestyle.
With a growing body of research pointing towards blood sugar management as a powerful tool in the war against diabetes but also obesity, and more consumers now realising its potential, the food and drink industry has a clear opportunity. By incorporating BENEO’s range of functional and natural ingredients, they can create products with lower glycaemic indexes – a key requisite that allows for better blood sugar management and better overall health.
Balancing health and indulgence with blood sugar management
It is important to look at the quality of the carbohydrates we consume – and carbohydrates that help to keep the blood glucose level under control are the way to go. There are two effective ways to minimise the glycaemic effect of food products. The first is to modify the glucose supply with fully available, yet low glycaemic carbohydrates such as Palatinose™ (isomaltulose); ensuring the carbohydrate energy enters the body in a balanced way. The second is to reduce overall glucose supply by sugar replacement, using partially (e.g. the sugar replacer ISOMALT) or non-available carbohydrates (e.g. the prebiotic fibres Orafti® Inulin and Orafti® Oligofructose).
Derived from the sugar beet, Palatinose™ has a mild sugar-like sweet taste. It supplies the body with the same amount of energy as other common, high glycaemic carbohydrates, but in a more balanced way. The slower yet complete digestion and absorption of Palatinose™ is characterized by a slower, longer lasting, and steadier blood glucose response, without the significant drops in blood glucose associated with conventional high glycaemic sugars. This lower and more balanced blood glucose response results in less insulin release and an improved metabolic profile, which helps consumers whose new year resolution is to manage their weight.
Alternatively, better blood sugar management can also be achieved by replacing available carbohydrates with partially (e.g. the sugar replacer ISOMALT) or non-available carbohydrates (e.g. chicory root fibres).
ISOMALT, the only sugar replacer from beet sugar, has a very low effect on blood sugar levels and does not trigger insulin release to any significant extent. With its sugar-like taste, this bulk sweetener can replace sugar in a 1:1 ratio in various applications. Similar to Palatinose™, ISOMALT also carries an EU health claim for being tooth-friendly, as well as a US health claim for not promoting tooth decay.
BENEO’s functional fibres inulin and oligofructose, are also additional options when looking to reduce the glucose supply of foods. They are both prebiotic fibres, naturally derived from the chicory root, and they both have a mild and pleasant taste. Partially replacing high glycaemic sugars, these chicory root fibres effectively reduce the glycaemic response of foods while still offering excellent sensorial taste and texture. At the same time, inulin and oligofructose also enrich foods with prebiotic fibre content, thus helping consumers to reach the recommended level of dietary fibre intake and boosting digestive health.
Smoothening the road to a healthy lifestyle
The widespread saying, “new year resolutions are meant to be broken” holds less weight in the face of functional ingredients.
Their ability to promote a low-glycaemic diet without compromising on taste makes it easier for consumers to stay committed to their resolutions. With these healthier alternatives readily available for use, food manufacturers are more well-positioned than ever to support consumers with their fitness goals for the year.