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Cargill sights ‘red hot’ energy sector following sucromalt fatigue study

By Ben Bouckley , 04-Dec-2012
Last updated the 05-Dec-2012 at 15:16 GMT

Cargill is exploring opportunities in the energy sector after an ‘exciting’ study suggested that its novel carbohydrate Xtend sucromalt  reduced and delayed mental fatigue in adults when formulated within a beverage.

Marketed under the Xtend brand, Cargill positions sucromalt as a full-calorie natural sweetening syrup made from sucrose and maltose, a low glycemic index (GI) alternative to sugar and high fructose corn syrup (HFCS).

Deborah Schulz, Xtend sucromalt product line manager said that Cargill was leveraging findings from a new Dammann et al. study, published in the journal Nutritional Neuroscience, with customers to explore new product opportunities in the “red hot” energy category.

“Despite the growth of super-caffeinated products, it is clear that a growing sector of the population wants more options.”

Better results than glucose

The ingredient can be used in beverages, nutrition bars, ice cream, dairy products, jams and jellies, puddings and yogurts. It received EU Novel Foods approval in May 2010, following US GRAS (generally recognized as safe) approval as a food additive in 2009.

In a peer-reviewed study funded by Cargill, Dammann et al. aim to evaluate whether consuming sucromalt improves healthy adults’ perceptions of mental and physical energy and fatigue compared to dextrose (glucose) as a high glycemic index (GI) control.

In a double-blind, randomized, crossover study, 44 healthy adults ate the same dinner before ingesting 75g of either sucromalt or glucose in the form of a beverage the next day at 7.30am.

Subjects filled in questionnaires assessing mental and physical energy, fatigue, hunger, and sleepiness levels, this last from 7.30am to 12.30pm, for a total of five post-consumption time points.

Cargill admits more work needed…

Results showed that mental energy state, physical energy state and physical fatigue state results favored sucromalt compared to glucose, with significant differences emerging particularly after 4-5 hours (P <0.100), although minimal differences in hunger and sleepiness were observed.

“Sucromalt may help attenuate the perceived decline in mental and physical energy and rise in mental and physical fatigue that can occur 4-5 hours after ingestion of a high GI beverage,” Dammann et al. wrote.

They added that further trials examining sucromalt’s effects on cognitive and physical performance were of future interest, while Cargill itself said in a statement that more research was needed to confirm the findings.

Study limitations

Asked about study limitations, a Cargill spokesman told BeverageDaily.com that these may include the subjective nature of the questionnaire, the amount of carbohydrate tested, and the fact that glycemic and insulinemic responses were not measured in this study.   

He said: "Because this is the first study of this nature, results should be confirmed through additional research. Subsequent research studies could be designed to investigate the optimum consumption level of sucromalt, and understand in more detail the impact on physical and cognitive performance versus how subjects feel, and measuring other physiological responses such as glycemic and insulinemic measurements. 

"The area of metabolic effects beyond postprandial glycemia and insulinemia has been identified as an area of future study to potentially help to explain the observed effects on perceptions of energy and fatigue because other literature in this area is mixed," the spokesman added.

Title: ‘Effects of consumption of sucromalt, a slowly digestible carbohydrate, on mental and physical questionnaire responses’

Authors: Dammann, K.W, Bell, M., Kanter, M., Berger, A.

Source: Nutritional Neuroscience, available online October 22, 2012, http://dx.doi.org/10.1179/1476830512Y.0000000034

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