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De Villiers Chocolate’s new NO ADDED SUGAR range is put to the test

De Villiers Chocolate’s very first new, no-added-sugar offering is now available! Made from Rainforest Alliance-certified cocoa beans sourced from sustainable farms in Western Uganda, De Villiers Chocolate’s NO ADDED SUGAR range is also vegan and keto certified.

For De Villiers Chocolate research consultant, Dr Lindie Schloms, it’s all about the development of healthier products by including antioxidant-rich superfoods, botanicals and adaptogens and reducing harmful ingredients such as gluten and sugar. During the development of the De Villiers NO ADDED SUGAR range, Schloms performed research on various sugar alternatives to help create a diabetic- and keto-friendly product.

What makes De Villiers Chocolate’s NO ADDED SUGAR options different than other brands?

While there are several no-added-sugar chocolates on the market to cater for health conscious consumers, diabetics and those following the ketogenic (keto) diet, most of the available options are not nearly as palatable as one would like, they often leave a bitter aftertaste, include ingredients other than sugar that still cause blood sugar and insulin levels to spike, or cause unwanted gastrointestinal side effects. Since we did not want to settle for any of that, we have done extensive research to find the right combination of ingredients to use in De Villiers Chocolate’s NO ADDED SUGAR chocolate range that ticks all of the boxes without compromising on taste.

The brand-new range is not only keto certified, but also vegan and sweetened with a curated blend of erythritol, monk fruit and soluble corn fibre. What exactly is erythritol?

Erythritol is a sugar alcohol (polyol) that occurs naturally in fruits such as melons, grapes and pears. It is 70% as sweet as sugar, contains almost no calories (0 to 0.24 kcal/g) and has a zero glycaemic index. Erythritol is considered to be one of the best sugar substitutes for people with diabetes and those on the ketogenic diet since it does not increase blood glucose or insulin levels at doses of 20-64g. De Villiers’ NO ADDED SUGAR chocolates contain only 16g erythritol per 80g bar.

How does erythritol differ from other sugar alcohols?

Erythritol is very well tolerated. It has the highest digestive tolerance of all the sugar alcohols and long-term consumption of high amounts of erythritol has not been associated with any serious side effects. Unlike other sugar alcohols, which are fermented by bacteria in the colon and produce gas as a by-product, ± 90% of ingested erythritol is absorbed into the bloodstream before it reaches the colon. Since humans do not have the enzymes required to break it down, erythritol cannot be metabolised and is excreted completely unchanged in the urine. The remaining 10% of erythritol, which is not absorbed into the bloodstream, travels undigested and unfermented through the colon.

The new range contains a variety of nuts, all boasting major health benefits. In other words, guilt-free chocolate?

Nuts are great for diabetics and those on the keto diet since they are low in carbohydrates and rich in healthy fats, fibre, protein, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. Nuts such as almonds have also been shown to increase insulin sensitivity and reduce the rise in blood sugar and insulin levels after meals.

Almonds are one of the best dietary sources of vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant which helps to support immune-, heart- and skin health, while cashews have been linked to benefits like weight loss, improved blood sugar control and heart health. Did you know that hazelnuts, for example, provide significant amounts of antioxidants protecting the body from oxidative stress?

You’ve tested your blood glucose levels after enjoying some De Villiers NO ADDED SUGAR chocolate. Although you are not diabetic, and a young and healthy individual, what do the results suggest?   

Yes, myself, (a healthy 32-year-old female), and Carel van Wyk, (a healthy 34-year-old male), each consumed 40g De Villiers NO ADDED SUGAR chocolate first thing in the morning on an empty stomach. About two hours later, the average time for a glucose response to return to baseline, we consumed 40g De Villiers brown sugar chocolate to see how the two glucose responses compared with each other. Remember, normal fasting glucose levels are between 4-7 mmol/L (72-126 mg/dL), and after a meal, values can go up to 10 mmol/L (180 mg/dL) depending on the type and amount of carbohydrates ingested.

In all our experiments (six individual data sets collected on six different days), the average glucose levels in response to De Villiers’ NO ADDED SUGAR chocolates were between 6.0-6.5 mmol/L (108-117 mg/dL). Following consumption of chocolates containing brown sugar, glucose levels increased rapidly and peaked between 7.7-8.3 mmol/L (139 – 150 mg/dL). When comparing the areas under the curves, chocolates containing sugar resulted in a 2-6-fold bigger glucose response compared to De Villiers’s NO ADDED SUGAR chocolates.

Your conclusion?

De Villiers’ keto certified NO ADDED SUGAR vegan chocolates do not have a significant effect on blood glucose levels and are a safe option for people with diabetes, those on the ketogenic diet and anyone looking for a healthier chocolate alternative.