It may be hard to believe, but mushrooms can dramatically reduce the amount of sugar needed in chocolate. Denver based food technology company, MycoTechnology is able to reduce sugar requirements in chocolate by over 50% using their organic process. Recently, they debuted their technology on BBC Tomorrow’s Food, which Alan Hahn CEO of MycoTechnology explained that the secret is in the root system of mushrooms: “In nature mushrooms act as the clean up crew for the forest, breaking down toxins and providing nutrients for other plants to grow. By harnessing the root system of mushrooms, they consume the bitter compounds found in chocolate, ultimately reducing the need for masking agents such as sugar.” Hahn goes onto explain that, “The reason chocolate has upwards of 70% sugar is due to bitterness. Food manufacturers will add sugar to mask the undesirable bitter flavors found in chocolate to the point where it can be detrimental to health.” Sugar has gone under heavy scrutiny over the past few years, with research indicating its direct role in diabetes and obesity. This is of particular concern with the recent findings from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, which found that toddlers between the ages of 0-2 consume the same amount of sugar as adults. With sugar running rampant in everything from bread to sweets we need innovations from companies like MycoTechnology to help solve the sugar epidemic.
With the average American consuming three times the daily recommend amount of sugar and obesity reaching epidemic proportions, the food industry is frantically trying to develop healthier products. However, taking sugar out of foods is not as simple as it sounds as it provides a critical role in product development due to flavor defects. Product formulators are tasked with creating great tasting products that can be enjoyed by the masses. The challenge is that many natural ingredients have flavor defects such as bitterness, astringency and sourness which are off-putting to consumers. Their efforts become particularly challenging when developing products that are also, non-GMO, chemical-free and organic. To combat flavor defects, food manufacturers have adopted a practice known as masking, which is capable of hiding the unwanted tastes. Flavor masking works by over satiating taste receptors to the point of not being able to detect flavor. Vanillin and aroma chemicals are common masking agents but the most popular is sugar. Sugar is highly effective, inexpensive and provides structure to foods that few ingredients can; however, its health implications and the changing consumer landscape poses a challenge for its use in future product formulations. But the challenges continue: Although more than 51% say they want less sugar in their foods, taste is the most important factor in product acceptance and consumers are unwilling to compromise. Over the past several years, food manufacturers have been looking for solutions that are capable of providing full flavor without the added calories; however, finding effective sugar replacements that align with consumer trends has posed challenging. [convertkit form=4863405]