hero image

Penn State researchers have discovered that oat flour can enhance the taste of chocolate while reducing added sugar. This revelation comes as oat flour gains popularity among wellness influencers for its versatility in recipes like muffins and pancakes. In a controlled taste test, chocolates with 25-percent less sugar and oat flour were rated equally or even better than regular chocolate by participants.

Oats can be a substitute to added sugar in chocolates

According to John Hayes, a food science professor at Penn State, research indicates that reducing added sugar in chocolate can be done without significantly affecting consumers’ liking. While chocolate’s composition is primarily sugar, removing some requires finding substitutes to maintain texture and taste. This adjustment caters to consumers aiming to decrease their added sugar intake while preserving the indulgent nature of chocolate.

Co-author Gregory Ziegler said sugar in chocolate serves the dual purpose of sweetness and bulking. If sugar is removed, it must be replaced with an alternative ingredient that can fulfill these roles effectively to avoid detection by consumers.

Ziegler conducted experiments with rice and oats, exploring their potential as sugar substitutes due to their starch content. While both grains are carbohydrates and still break down into sugar in the body, they may do so at a slower rate. This slower processing could offer health benefits by reducing added sugar intake despite not lowering calorie content.

Oat flour enables 25% reduction in added sugar

A blind taste test with 90 participants compared 25% reduced sugar chocolates made with oat and rice flour to regular chocolate with 54% sugar. Each participant received three samples. Rice flour chocolates were rated lower than the control, but oat flour samples were as popular or even rated higher. The study suggests that substituting oat flour allows for a 25% reduction in added sugar without significantly affecting consumer acceptability. This finding is promising for reducing sugar content in chocolate products.

Candy brands like Smart Sweets and Lily’s have found success by creating high-fiber gummy bears and peach rings without added sugar, catering to people’s love for sweets while adopting a healthier ingredient composition.