Isomalto-Oligosaccharide (IMO) for Sugar Reduction in Bars

Isomalto-Oligosaccharide (IMO) for Sugar Reduction in Bars

Formulas For Success is a monthly educational series from our leading formulation experts that covers the basics and fundamentals of trends in product formulation. Each time we’ll be featuring an emerging ingredient or combination of ingredients and sharing the key tips you’ll need to discover your own formula for success.

Last time, we covered formulation tips for the dietary supplement Pyrroloquinoline Quinone (PQQ) and featured a sample formulation in an energy bar. That generated interest amongst our readers in learning more about how to best formulate for sugar reduction in bars. It’s a common question our experts are asked since replacing sugar in a bar comes with unique challenges and requires a careful consideration of ingredients. For such product applications, we often turn to the prebiotic ingredient Isomalto-Oligosaccharide (IMO).

What is Isomalto-Oligosaccharide?

IMO is a sweet bulking syrup produced from starch using enzymes. In the US, it is no longer considered a fiber but rather a prebiotic ingredient (Canada, however, does still count it as a fiber). The syrup has 3 calories/gram, 0.75 carbs/gram, 0.075g of added sugar/gram, and is approximately 34% as sweet as sugar. The taste profile is fairly clean, particularly at lower use levels but high use levels may present a taste similar to that of pine needles. IMO is available from corn or tapioca sources and can be applied in syrup or powdered forms.

The Challenges of Sugar Reduction in Bars

Substituting sugar in a bar is much more complicated than substituting sugar in a beverage, where water can be used to replace sugar in a 100% formula. When removing syrups in a bar, the binding capability in a bar is impacted. Another hurdle when reformulating a bar is the need to maintain a 100% formula. One change in an ingredient’s percentage necessitates a need to change the percentage of something else in the formula.

Something that will also be important to consider in the formulation of a bar is shelf life — namely, stopping the bar from hardening. Choosing ingredients that do not tend to harden over time is essential. It’s recommended that close attention is paid to ingredients such as the syrups/binders, lecithin, gums, fibers, sugars, and the addition of glycerin or something similar that helps maintain softness.

Isomalto-Oligosaccharide (IMO) Formulation Example

To solve for these challenges of reducing sugar in bars, IMO is an ideal sweetener to use. To illustrate IMO in action, we created a granola crisp bar as a sample formulation. In this bar, we removed 50% of the brown rice syrup and countered with the addition of IMO syrup, stevia, and some more of the toasted oats. A balance of binding capacity and dry ingredients needs to be considered when making these types of changes.

To calibrate our mix of sugar reduction ingredients, we experimented with multiple syrups including Nascent’s allulose syrup and our other dietary fiber syrups. However, the other syrups didn’t have the binding capacity of the brown rice syrup and the bar fell apart more easily. If one were to formulate with a lower reduction goal than the 50% removal, the other syrups would likely be acceptable. In the findings from our testing though, Nascent’s isomalto-oligosaccharide (IMO) exhibited the best binding capabilities, similar to that of brown rice syrup.

Additional Ingredients to Consider

When using a binder in bars, it can be very sticky and manufacturing customers will likely need measures to prevent the bar from sticking onto their rollers when producing at commercial scale. The addition of oil will help but you will then need to add an antioxidant to slow oxidation over shelf life. As part of our ingredients portfolio, Nascent offers a patented Vitamin E which preserves the original α-tocopherol form for increased bioavailability. This can be added as a natural preservative for the oils in the bar.

Fiber is a common ingredient to be added to bars. Nascent has multiple fibers that can be included in bar formulations. In our granola crisp bar example, inulin was chosen as it also helps with the binding capability.

Another common ingredient in bars is proteins. Soy is a popular choice among manufacturers for a plant-based protein. Nascent can help identify other sources of protein powders such as pea or fava bean. Our technical teams regularly conduct thorough evaluations of top suppliers and can offer expertise on which powders offer the cleanest taste at a relatively low cost.

The delicious – and attractive – finishing touch for our bar is the chocolate coating. It can be drizzled on top, bottom coated, or fully enrobed. While the coating has a higher melting point than typical chocolate, a controlled-temperature distribution is likely needed to prevent the coating from melting during shipping.

Need the recipe for the granola crisp bar? Or ready to create your own formula for success? If you’re interested in learning more about formulating with Isomalto-Oligosaccharide (IMO), contact one of our expert consultants for your product development and formulation needs!

PQQ – A Powerful Dietary Ingredient for Cellular Energy

PQQ – A Powerful Dietary Ingredient for Cellular Energy

Formulas For Success is a monthly educational series from our leading formulation experts that covers the basics and fundamentals of trends in product formulation. Each month, we’ll be featuring an emerging ingredient or combination of ingredients and sharing the key tips you’ll need to discover your own formula for success.

If you’re not familiar with the essential nutrient PQQ, then you’re not alone. PQQ, or Pyrroloquinoline Quinone, is a rapidly emerging dietary ingredient which is found in nature in nano quantities, and is an essential micronutrient in living organisms. PQQ can be found in the cells of our bodies, where it protects and restores mitochondria for optimal cellular energy (ATP) production. It is a powerful antioxidant and stimulates growth and replication of the mitochondria. It also restores your nerve cells and nerve endings by enhancing the production of Nerve Growth Factor. These important roles that PQQ plays in cellular health and nutrition make it a necessary supplement for supporting a healthy brain and heart.

Formulating with PQQ

PQQ (Pyrroloquinoline Quinone) is available in 2 forms:

  • PQQ Disodium Salt – a water dispersible, reddish-brown, free-flowing powder
  • PQQ Acid – an oil soluble, reddish-brown, free flowing powder

PQQ Disodium Salt is very stable, has a 3 year shelf life, and can easily be incorporated into powdered drink mixes, tablets, capsules, chewables, effervescent tablets, candy, and gummies. PQQ Acid can be incorporated into oil based products like chocolates, softgels, and tinctures. PQQ Acid can also be emulsified for incorporation into ready-to-drink beverages and other water based foods and beverages. 

The recommended dosage for PQQ is 10 – 20mg per day. At this level, its slightly earthy taste can easily be masked in foods and beverages. Currently PQQ is available in the market as a stand alone dietary supplement, or in combination with synergistic ingredients like CoQ10. It is also available in powdered drink mixes and ready-to-drink beverages for sports nutrition. 

PQQ vs. COQ10

While PQQ may not be widely known, you’re likely familiar with its “cousin” ingredient CoQ10. But is PQQ a replacement for CoQ10? No!

PQQ and CoQ10 work side by side in the cells. In fact, you need both for maximum cellular energy production. They are powerful antioxidants, functioning independently, and have separate, unique functions which make them both essential.  The difference is that while the body produces CoQ10, you must obtain PQQ from your diet. So for many consumers, supplementing with PQQ is even more important.

PQQ and CoQ10 Short Term Memory Test Scores Graph
The benefits of PQQ in boosting short term memory are even more pronounced when paired with CoQ10

PQQ Formulation Example

Bars make for ideal product applications for energy ingredients. Adding PQQ into an energy bar is a great and delicious way to ensure consumption of the daily recommended PQQ. Adding a small amount to the bar does not affect the binding ability, taste, appearance, or shelf life. In the sample formulation below for an energy nut bar, our patented Vitamin E, which preserves the original α-tocopherol form for increased bioavailability, was added as a natural preservative for the oils in the bar. To keep the bar packed with energy but also healthy, SoPure Stevia Reb A and IMO syrup was applied to reduce the added sugar contents. All ingredients were blended with the hot binder in a mixer and rolled into a slab. A chocolate drizzle was added on top to provide an indulgent, tasty treat. This product was displayed at Supply Side West and met with wonderful feedback.

PQQ Formulation Solutions

Nascent Health Sciences supplies both PQQ Disodium Salt and PQQ Acid as stand-alone bulk ingredients which can easily be incorporated into a variety of applications. Nascent’s products are FDA Affirmed GRAS for food and beverage products.

Need the recipe for the energy nut bar? Or ready to create your own formula for success? If you’re interested in learning more about formulating with PQQ, contact one of our expert consultants for your product development and formulation needs!

Stevia + Erythritol = A Sweet Classic

Stevia + Erythritol = A Sweet Classic

Formulas For Success is a monthly educational series from our leading formulation experts that covers the basics and fundamentals of trends in product formulation. Each time we’ll be featuring an emerging ingredient or combination of ingredients and sharing the key tips you’ll need to discover your own formula for success.

Similar to allulose, erythritol is a favorite low-calorie sweetener choice for many food & beverage manufacturers, and is widely used in formulations together with stevia. Erythritol is a sugar alcohol that is naturally occurring in fruits like grapes, peaches, pears and watermelons. It can also be found in mushrooms and fermented products such as beer, cheese, sake, soy sauce and wine. The typical process to produce erythritol involves using corn, enzymes, and a fermentation process. Our erythritol is strictly fermented from only non-genetically modified corn to meet the expectations of modern consumers for cleaner labels.

While erythritol is a sugar alcohol, it is distilled and produced in granulated and powdered form to replicate the form of table sugar and increase consumer adoption. When choosing erythritol for product formulation, especially in combination with stevia, it’s important to understand some of its key properties.

Properties of Erythritol

  • “Upfront” sweetener similar to allulose and sugar
  • Provides a sweetness level that is ~67.5% of sugar
  • Provides a sweetness level that is 9% higher than allulose
  • Less expensive compared to allulose
  • Non-caloric in nature (contains almost no calories)
  • Non-glycemic (will not spike blood sugar levels)
  • Heat stable (up to 160 F)
  • GRAS status by FDA
  • Non-carcinogenic
  • Antioxidant properties
  • Non-artificial (fermented) production process

Erythritol is an important tool in the food and beverage formulation arsenal due to its abundance of beneficial qualities. It provides a sweetness level that can largely replicate sugar and that is higher than that of allulose. Its heat-stable property makes it a favorable sugar replacement ingredient in baking applications. It’s non-caloric in nature and provides a path towards usage in keto/diabetic friendly applications. A particularly important consideration for many food & beverage makers is that erythritol is less expensive and more cost-effective than allulose. Finally, it has been granted “Generally Regarded as Safe” status by the United States FDA, permitting food and beverage formulators to utilize this ingredient in a wide variety of sugar reduction applications.

Erythritol Market Trends

In 2019, according to Innova Market Insights, erythritol accounted for 11% of food and beverage launches in US and Canada. It is more commonly used with stevia in North America compared to other sugar alcohols like maltitol and sorbitol, which are considered artificial due to the production process.

Erythritol vs. Other Sweeteners

The gastrointestinal impact of digesting erythritol is less than all other sugar alcohols and allulose, which provides a higher limit for formulation. The table below outlines how it compares to other bulk sweeteners in terms of production source, relative sweetness, calories and dosage limitations:

Bulk sweetener choices comparison table between allulose, erythritol, tagatose, xylitol and sorbitol

Formulation Example: Sugar Cookie Recipe

For demonstration purposes, we designed a test of erythritol vs. allulose in a sugar cookie formulation experiment. We created three batches of sugar cookies with each utilizing the same recipe, but one test version used only erythritol while the other test used only allulose. A traditional recipe utilizing sugar acted as the control for the experiment. All versions of the cookies baked at 350°F on the same tray for 13 minutes and rotated halfway through.

Erythritol vs. Allulose Sugar Cookie Test Results

The experiment yielded significant differences in the baking results. Both erythritol and allulose test cookies spread less than the traditional sugar cookie. The allulose test cookie browned more than the other recipes while the erythritol cookie didn’t show much browning. In our experiment, the two test cookies were 100% sweetened with either erythritol or allulose and both produced less than perfect results. Ultimately, what the demonstration showed was that in a true sugar-replacement scenario, such formulations require adjustments to the formula/recipe and baking process to account for the different properties of erythritol and allulose compared to sugar. We should also note that the levels we used in our experiment below may be above the GRAS levels, whereas a commercial formula would utilize a blend of both sweeteners to achieve a browning effect more similar to sugar.

Erythritol and Allulose Sugar Cookie Recipe (via sallysbakingaddiction.com)

Erythritol and Allulose Sugar Cookie Recipe Table

Erythritol Formulation Solutions

Nascent Health Sciences provides erythritol as a stand-alone ingredient or co-processed with stevia or monkfruit for various applications. Co-processing is vital for powdered applications as separation is likely to occur due to the particle size difference between erythritol and other powdered high-potency sweeteners. They are available as a direct 1:1 replacement for sugar, a 2X version, which is common for tabletop usage, and custom sweetness versions are also available upon request.

To read more about how erythritol complements stevia, visit our erythritol application support page

Need the recipe for the sugar cookie? Or ready to create your own formula for success? If you’re interested in learning more about formulating with erythritol and stevia, contact one of our expert consultants for your product development and formulation needs!

Introducing Formulas For Success

Introducing Formulas For Success

As trusted experts in providing innovative sweetener solutions for food and beverage manufacturers, we work with a lot of companies that share common challenges when it comes to formulation with stevia. Sometimes selecting the right ingredients for a formulation can either make or break a product. More often than not, the knowledge needed to formulate with newer, unfamiliar ingredients like stevia is hard to come by.

The SoPure Stevia team is excited to be launching our new initiative to address these marketplace challenges. Based on our highly successful industry seminars, Formulas For Success is a monthly educational series from our leading formulation experts that covers the basics and fundamentals of trends in product formulation. Each time we’ll be featuring an emerging ingredient or combination of ingredients and sharing the key tips you’ll need to discover your own formula for success.

Stevia + Allulose = The Sweet New Couple

In this inaugural edition of Formulas for Success, we’re highlighting one of the fastest-rising low-calorie sweeteners that everyone is asking about — Allulose. Allulose has quickly gained traction with food and beverage manufacturers due to recent FDA guidance which allows the ingredient to be exempted from total and added sugar counts in nutrition labeling. This makes allulose an ideal sugar substitute for formulators looking to achieve cleaner labels and sugar reduction.

Allulose is about 62% as sweet as sugar and provides a lot of upfront sweetness which means it can act as a great formulation partner to stevia, which has a later onset of sweetness. From our experience, an allulose + stevia combination is particularly effective in formulations where bulking is required, such as baking or confectionery applications. This is due to allulose’s ability to replicate and replace the texture and mouthfeel of sugar.  In baking, we have found allulose to brown faster and spread less than sugar, so it requires some slight adjustments in formulation to reproduce traditional sugar-laden recipes.

Allulose Formulation Considerations

  • Cost is up to 4X the price of sugar and due to its lower sweetness intensity, the cost per unit of sweetness becomes even higher. When combined with stevia, the cost per unit sweetness becomes more manageable, though it may still be more than that of sugar.
  • Allulose is not digested by the body very well and in some cases, may cause gastrointestinal irritation and discomfort. Formulators will need to be mindful on usage when formulating for products with high consumption potentials.
  • Allulose has usage limits for food and beverages, as explained above, and further detailed on our SoPure website here. Supplements can utilize levels above those limits but off-notes may become more apparent when above the suggested usage limits.
  • Our testing with allulose and stevia combinations has revealed that the initial taste of a product tends to be perceived as sweeter but will level off over repeated and continued consumption. Taste adaptation is more noticeable in this combination rather than on their own or when compared to other combinations.

Sample Stevia + Allulose Formulation

To illustrate stevia + allulose in action, we designed a sample formula where we combined allulose with Reb A 99 and our new DGS Flavor TN in a confectionary product.

Stevia + Allulose Sample Formula - Dark Chocolate Morsels

This dark chocolate was exhibited at SSW 2019 and highlights a wide variety of ingredients from the Nascent Health Sciences portfolio including PQQ, Inositol and Vitamin E. The chocolate debuted to rave industry reviews at the event and serves as an excellent demonstration of how stevia and allulose can make an ideal pairing.

Stevia Sugar Free Chocolate Cookie Nutrition Facts

For some more in-depth details on the functionality of allulose, its nutritional information, and other important characteristics of this increasingly popular sweetener, visit our allulose application support page.

Need the recipe for the sugar free dark chocolate morsels? Or ready to create your own formula for success? If you’re interested in learning more about formulating with allulose and stevia, contact one of our expert consultants for your product development and formulation needs!