Biotec firm Lycotec has developed an ingredient for chocolate and other fat-based foods that it claims can help consumers to manage their weight and reduce blood cholesterol.
The company claims that chocolate, baked goods and butter blended with its ‘L-Tug’ ingredient can help consumers to lower blood lipids and reduce cholesterol.
L-Tug: Guiding lipids to the liver
Speaking to ConfectioneryNews.com, Lycotec CEO Ivan Petyaev said that L-tug directed lipid particles to a specific part of the liver to be broken down and excreted from the body.
He said the ingredient worked much like cholesterol lowering spreads, such as Benecol, which cannot be added as an ingredient in other foods.
He said that L-tug would allow smaller lipid particles to be guided to hepatocytes, intelligent cells in the liver that can break down lipids more easily.
He added that it would not just help to break down fat contained in the chocolate, but could reduce existing fat to normal physiological levels.
Composition and formulation
L-tug is derived from lycopene, a pigment found in tomatoes and other red fruit and veg that is recognised as safe for food-use in Europe and the US.
Petyaev said L-tug's discovery was accidental and occurred during his work on a US government funded project with the National Institute of Health in Washington.
He said that a big reason why Italy did not have the same obesity problems as countries like the US and UK was because the Mediterranean diet uses a lot of tomato sauce, which contains lycopene, allowing fats to be directed to the liver and broken down.
L-tug can be blended at the final stages of chocolate production at a 0.1 – 0.2% concentration of the fat mass.
According to Petyaev, the ingredient is tasteless and has no impact on flavour, texture or crystallisation.
L-Tug can be used in milk, dark and white chocolate. The ingredient also has applications in food with any fat matrix, such as bread, bakery, biscuits, crisps, dairy products and vegetable oils.
Petyaev said that the ingredient would produce a goldish colour in some foods, such as butter. However, there would be no colour change in chocolate except for white varieties which would turn to a caramel colour.
Petyaev said the ingredient could be used by confectioners and other food makers to produce cholesterol lowering and weight management products.
Lycotec has secured a manufacturing and distribution deal with DSM to bring the product to market.
Petyaev said he was also in discussion with another ingredients firm to bring L-tug to Asia.
DSM will start production as soon as food manufacturers have plans to develop a product with the ingredient.
Lycotec has conducted a one-month clinical trial administering L-tug chocolate and butter to 50 patients with high cholesterol and triglycerides.
It found that both cholesterol and triglycerides levels were cut by over half compared to control groups.
Combination with epicatechin raising ingredient
Petyaev said that chocolatiers L-tug could combine L_tug with another recent Lycotec development that can increase epicatechin content in chocolate by 20 times.
Petyaev added that a confectioner hoping to bring a health chocolate to market could also substitute sugar with an alternative, such as stevia.