The glycemic index—Chance or threat for the beverage industry?

Nutrition/Health Session
Moritz Krahl, Radeberger Gruppe, Frankfurt am Main, Germany

ABSTRACT: Jenkins introduced the concept of the glycemic index (GI) in the 1970s. In the following years diseases caused by poor or unbalanced diets have developed into severe problems in the Western world. The growing number of patients affected by diabetes mellitus type II especially seems to be directly related to the amount and type of carbohydrates consumed in the daily diet. The GI classifies carbohydrates with regard to their individual resorption time from a consumed food. The resulting postprandial glucose levels are compared to those measured after consumption of a reference food, notably glucose or white bread. The GI of glucose is set at 100, the GI of sucrose is set at 66, and the GI of fructose is set at only 20. In this paper the concept of the IG and the fundamentals of carbohydrate metabolism are explained. Measured GI values for different types of beverages, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic, are correlated with the amounts of sugar present in these beverages. In recent years consumers and non-governmental organizations have become increasingly aware of the possibly negative health impact of high GI beverages. In consequence the industry needs to focus on low calorie and low GI products as an alternative to traditional beverages containing high GI carbohydrates. Sweeteners and low GI carbohydrates can be used in this regard. The advantages of different alternative sweeteners like steviol glycosides, polyols, erythritol, isomaltulose, and trehalose are compared and discussed. As all these sweeteners offer attributes different from sucrose and glucose, product formulations need to be adapted. By combining two or more different sweeteners and using their synergistic effects, taste profiles close to sucrose sweetened beverages can be guaranteed. In conclusion it can be stated that alternative low calorie and low GI sweeteners offer an alternative to glucose and sucrose based sweetening of beverages. For beverage producers it is of major importance to focus on synergistic effects, changes in flavor expression and stability, and differences regarding mouthfeel and consumer acceptance during product development.

Moritz Krahl was born in Schwetzingen, Germany. After passing the German Abitur (A levels) in 2000, he began studying brewing and beverage technology at Technische Universität München in Weihenstephan, Germany. In 2004 he graduated with a B.S. degree and in 2005 with a Dipl.-Ing. (graduate engineer) degree. From 2005 to 2010 Moritz worked on his Ph.D. on “Functional Beverages Based on Malted Cereals and Pseudocereals” at the Institute for Brewing and Beverage Technology in Weihenstephan. From 2010 to 2011 he worked as head engineer for plant and process optimization for MEG. In October 2011 Moritz joined the Radeberger Group with key responsibility in product and process development for new beverages.