Recently sugar-free chocolates
have really improved thanks to the development of a group
of natural sweeteners called polyols, particularly maltitol.
Maltitol comes from maltose which is a naturally occurring
sugar found in starch.
These new sugar-free chocolates
based on maltitol do not have the same unpleasant aftertaste
that artificial sweeteners often produce. In addition, maltitol
is very stable and has a high melting point, making it ideal
for chocolate production and melting.
Maltitol tastes almost as
sweet as sugar but has considerably fewer calories (less than
2.5 calories per gram) and does not cause tooth decay. It
is also thought to be healthier for the stomach and intestines.
However EU guidelines recommend limiting consumption of polyol-based
chocolates to 100g per day due to the laxative effects of
Another benefit of using
maltitol in low calorie chocolate is that it can also be used
as a replacement for fat because it gives the chocolate a
rich, creamy texture.
In the past sugar-free chocolates
were based on saccharin and this became particularly popular
during and after the second world war when sugar supplies
In the sixties, other sweeteners
like cyclamate were blended with saccharin to improve texture
and flavour, and then aspartame came onto the market in the
1980's. Aspartame tastes very similar to regular sugar and
can actually strengthen certain flavours, especially fruit
Recently, even more alternative
sweeteners have been introduced. From acesulfame potassium
which works very well in products cooked at high temperatures
like chocolate fondants, to sucralose which is actually derived
from sugar but is six hundred times sweeter, and so only tiny
amounts are needed to achieve equivalent sweetness levels.
Sugar-free chocolates are
suitable for diabetics as part of a balanced diet.
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