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The Emergence of Herbal Chocolate Ice Cream: Passing Trend or Future Staple?

by Alice

As global consciousness surrounding the origin of raw materials and the sustainability of production processes continues to rise, the popularity of plant-based foods is experiencing a significant upsurge. Accompanying this trend is the steady growth of veganism, driven by ethical and health considerations, which has prompted a shift in dietary preferences away from animal-derived products.

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In response to these evolving consumer demands, scientists from the State University of Campinas (UNICAMP) have developed a novel low-calorie ice cream devoid of animal-derived ingredients. The findings of their research, detailed in volume 24 of the Brazilian Journal of Food Science Technology under the title “Plant-based frozen desserts: temporal sensory profile and preference,” shed light on the potential trajectory of plant-based frozen treats.

The study encompassed the creation of six distinct formulations of chocolate-flavored ice cream, divided into three variations based on soy protein and three utilizing rice protein. Notably, all formulations were crafted without lactose or animal fat, catering to individuals adhering to restrictive dietary regimes.

Sweetening agents ranged from traditional sucrose to alternative sweeteners such as sucralose and steviol glycoside extract (stevia). Sensory acceptance analysis, alongside “time-intensity” assessments, was conducted to evaluate attributes like sweet taste, bitter taste, chocolate flavor, and melting properties.

Among the 120 participants aged 18 to 60, representing a diverse cross-section of the target demographic, ice cream formulations sweetened with sucrose emerged as the preferred choice. However, a notable 46% of testers expressed interest in the soy protein-based variant sweetened with sucralose, highlighting its potential appeal among certain segments of consumers.

Notably, ice cream formulations sweetened with stevia exhibited heightened intensity and duration of bitter taste, indicating a potential barrier to widespread acceptance among consumers.

Furthermore, products formulated with soy protein demonstrated superior sensory performance compared to those utilizing rice protein. The authors attribute this preference to the established consumption habits of soy products within the target demographic.

As the discourse surrounding sustainability and health-conscious consumption continues to shape consumer behavior, the emergence of herbal chocolate ice cream represents a noteworthy intersection of culinary innovation and dietary consciousness. Whether this trend will evolve into a steadfast dietary staple remains to be seen, but its potential to cater to evolving consumer preferences cannot be overlooked.

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