11 April 2012
Cutting sugar for a healthy start
RMIT University researchers are working to reduce sugar content in breakfast cereals through a partnership with Sanitarium Health and Wellbeing Australia.
Funded by an ARC Linkage Grant and Sanitarium, the research project is examining how to design healthier cereals without altering taste or texture.
The research is led by Professor Stefan Kasapis and his Food Chemistry team in the School of Applied Sciences.
Professor Kasapis said food manufacturers were facing the challenges of innovation in an increasingly competitive market.
“The cost of ingredients, consumer health and lifestyle expectations, improving sensory impact, controlling delivery of active compounds and product stability are all factors that pose challenges for the food manufacturing industry,” he said.
“The primary aim of our work is to replace fat, sugar and artificial ingredients with functional dairy ingredients in products such as yoghurts, spreads, processed cheeses, breakfast cereals, snacks and energy bars without compromising sensory and textural attributes.
“With the rising incidence of Type 2 diabetes and other obesity-related diseases, identifying new ways to design nutritionally advantageous food products and improve health in the community is crucial.”
Syrup is often used to bind different ingredients of breakfast cereals and energy bars.
In an effort to reduce sugar content and enhance nutritional value of the product, the research team replaced sugar with functional ingredients, resulting in both textural and health benefits.
Professor Kasapis said the novel products developed by the team were characterised using textural and sensory techniques during different stages of development.
“Our team achieved superb mouthfeel with reduced sugar content and the results have been scaled up at Sanitarium’s pilot plant,” he said.
“We are looking forward to seeing more healthy products in the market as result of this work.”
Professor Stefan Kasapis examining the thermal properties of a reduced sugar syrup, used as a binding agent in low-calorie breakfast cereals.
Researcher Lita Katopo helped investigate the textural attributes of the low-calorie breakfast cereals using the technique of texture profile analysis, which imitates chewing in the mouth.
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