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Sugar-free Chocolate

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 excessive consumption.

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 were scarce.

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 flavours.

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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