Fibre-enriched cocoa products raise health stakes for confectionery firms

Related tags Nutrition Carbohydrate

A new low-carb cocoa, being launched by Spanish firm Natraceutical
this month, will help confectionery makers lift the fibre levels
and lower the glycaemic response of their products, reports
Dominique Patton.

It is one of a range of healthier cocoa variants being developed by Natraceutical​ to make chocolate healthier without modifying the taste.

The low-carb cocoa, presented at Health Ingredients Europe last November, will enter industrial scale production by the end of the month.

It is said to contain approximately 2.5g of carbohydrates per 100g of cocoa compared to the 16.5g carbs found in standard cocoa. It also has a high percentage of total fibre - near to 50 per cent - compared to the 31 per cent in standard cocoa powder.

It could be used in cakes, biscuits, breakfast cereals, desserts, yoghurts, chewing gums and supplements.

Marketing manager Pedro Arenas admits that the low-carb market has slumped since its peak last year, but says it is still in the region of $20-25 billion in the US.

In Europe, the ingredient will be targeted at the crossover trend - the glycaemic index - which similarly focuses on carbohydrates, emphasizing the slower release of sugars.

"We want it to take 1 per cent of the low-carb ingredients market,"​ said Arenas. "It can share both the low-carb and low-GI interest."

The company is currently conducting studies in rats to test the patent-pending ingredient's effects on the glycaemic response.

"One of the main advantages is that you don't need to modify the formulation. If you're going to make chocolate healthier, you don't want to add anything strange or change the taste,"​ added Arenas.

All of the cocoa powders are derived from the whole cocoa bean, sourced by parent company Natra.

Natraceutical has also recently launched a soluble cocoa fibre that gives confectionery makers a chance to offer additional heart health benefits. Soluble fibre has been found to lower cholesterol levels and reduce the insulin response.

"We are surprised by the acceptance this product got on the market,"​ said Arenas. "We already have customers working on chocolate tablets using the fibre."

The world's leading producer of natural caffeine is, in addition, working on a high polyphenol cocoa.

"We are near to launching a product with a high polyphenol content. But unlike other companies, we're not just interested in its polyphenol quantity but also looking at how bioavailable these polyphenols are to the body."

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