Gut-boosting treat: Meiji releases functional chocolate containing fructooligosaccharides

By Hui Ling Dang

- Last updated on GMT

Sugar content in Meiji's new chocolate products have been replaced with gut-benefiting fructooligosaccharides. ©Meiji
Sugar content in Meiji's new chocolate products have been replaced with gut-benefiting fructooligosaccharides. ©Meiji

Related tags Meiji Chocolate Gut health sugar replacer

Meiji has launched new chocolate products that replaced sugar with fructooligosaccharides (FOS), which is said to help regulate intestinal flora and offer various health benefits.

The products have been notified as Foods with Function Claims (FFCs) with Japan’s Consumer Affairs Agency, and were launched across the country from June 11.

Specifically, half of the sugar used in Meiji Oligosaccharide Milk Chocolate 50 and all sugar content in Oligosaccharide Milk Chocolate 100 were substituted by FOS respectively.

FOS are oligosaccharides found in plants such as garlic, onion, banana, asparagus, artichoke and chicory root. They are believed to provide various health benefits, including lowering of blood sugar and cholesterol, and reducing constipation.

As they are not digestible, FOS do not affect blood glucose levels. They travel through the small intestine to the colon, where they promote the growth of good bacteria, including bifidobacteria and lactic acid bacteria.

Due to their slightly sweet profile and low-calorie content, FOS may also be preferable to artificial sweeteners.

“FOS have been reported to increase the number of good bacteria and regulate the intestinal flora, helping to keep the stomach in good condition for those who are concerned about bowel movements. In addition, it is a carbohydrate that has a taste similar to sugar, but is not absorbed [by the body] as sugar.

“Through this product, consumers can enjoy delicious chocolate while being mindful of their health. For those who want to eat it as a daily snack, we recommend the big version (Meiji Oligosaccharide Milk Chocolate 50 Large Bag) that contains 40 pieces,” ​the firm said.

Functionality review

According to Meiji, the efficacy of FOS intake in increasing beneficial bacteria, improving gut flora, and regulating intestinal function has been evaluated in a systematic review.

“Studies have indicated that deterioration of the intestinal flora not only leads to constipation, but also various diseases. In order to maintain and improve human health, it is important to support the growth of good bacteria likebifidobacteria and lactic acid bacteria, and decrease harmful bacteria such as Clostridium perfringens and Escherichia coli.”

Research literature based on randomised parallel controlled trials and randomised crossover trials dated up to December 2021 were searched, and two papers that met the eligibility criteria were adopted for analysis.

One of the papers was aimed at Japanese people, which boosted the relevancy of the findings.

In both papers, the proportion of bifidobacteria was measured as an evaluation index of intestinal-regulating effect. It was found that FOS intake resulted in a significant increase of bifidobacteria, compared to the control group.

In the paper that measured bowel frequency and stool characteristics, no significant difference was observed in the inter-group comparison for all study participants.

However, a stratified analysis showed a significant difference in participants prone to constipation between the intervention and control groups.

In addition, the effective FOS intake amount was discovered to be 3g to 10g per day.

For Meiji Oligosaccharide Milk Chocolate 50, the recommended daily intake is five pieces (25g), amounting to 3g of FOS.

Similarly for Meiji Oligosaccharide Milk Chocolate 100, it is recommended to consume three pieces (15g), which contains 3g of FOS, a day.

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