Overcoming The Challenges of Sugar and Fat Reduction in Frozen Dairy Desserts

As consumers become more informed and sophisticated, they are also more aware of the negative impact sugar and fat in their food has on their bodies. However, most are reluctant to sacrifice the taste and indulgence especially when it comes to frozen dairy treats9. Hence, food technologists are required to formulate products in a way where the indulgent tastes of the frozen dairy desserts are not lost while the sugar and fat dosage are reduced4.

Why are Fats and Sugar needed?


Fats contribute the buttery, creamy, and ‘rich’ flavour of ice cream. It works by lubricating the palate, and thus minimizing the coarse texture due to large ice crystals5. During storage, fat globules also mechanically hinder the development of ice crystals thereby decreasing the rate of recrystallization and prolong the shelf life 5,11.


Sugar plays an important role in preventing large ice crystal formation which may affect the smooth texture in frozen dessert like ice cream8,11. Sugar also impacts the texture, sweetness, freezing-point depression and melting characteristics of the frozen dessert10.

Challenges and Solutions

Frozen desserts are made up of a complex range of ingredients that contains all three phases – solid, liquid and gas, which makes it extremely challenging to manipulate critical ingredients like fats and sugar13. However, it is now possible to formulate lower-fat and reduced-sugar frozen desserts by incorporating a range of functional ingredients such as polyols, gums and fibres9,10.

Several polyols such as sorbitol, lactitol and glycerol have been used in frozen dairy formulation to reduce its hardness and to have similar freezing point depression as in standard ice cream10. Sorbitol is used as a sugar replacement in frozen dessert which is suitable for persons with diabetes as well for health-conscious consumers in general. It also makes the dessert softer and easier to scoop due to its lower freezing point10. Natural gums such as basil seed gum and guar gum is favoured for the perception of creaminess and coarseness in ice cream. They reduce the meltdown rate and can be used as a fat replacer or stabilizer in a low-fat ice cream7. Other than that, quality of frozen dairy product can also be improved by using chia seed mucilage as it enhances the texture, overrun and melting properties therefore is suitable to replace emulsifiers and stabilizer in the formulation of low-fat ice cream3.

Functional fibres such as inulin and oligofructose can be used in recipes to replace sugar and fat while still deliver an indulgent, creamy taste and texture11 because it decreases the melting rate, and increases adhesiveness and hardness that is expected by consumers1. Inulin improves melting properties by retaining free water when fat and sugar are reduced, thus resulting in smaller ice crystals reflecting a softer texture. Nonetheless, inulin can be the better option as a functional ingredient to formulate low fat and sugar reduced ice cream with added prebiotic benefits11.

In a nutshell,

Sugar and fat reduction in frozen dairy dessert can be achieved by adding suitable ingredients into the formulation. At DPO International, we are honoured to be in partnership with Beneo to bring you a wide range of ingredients choices that will elevate the product quality of dairy products.


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2Cadena, R. S., A. G. Cruz, J. A. F. Faria, and H. M. A. Bolini. 2012. Reduced fat and sugar vanilla ice creams: sensory profiling and external preference mapping. J. Dairy Sci, 95,4842–4850.  

3Campos, B. E., Dias Ruivo, T., da Silva Scapim, M. R., Madrona, G. S., & de C. Bergamasco, R. (2016). Optimization of the mucilage extraction process from chia seeds and application in ice cream as a stabilizer and emulsifier. LWT – Food Science and Technology, 65, 874–883.

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6Ilya, G. (2019). How To Reduce The Amount Of Sugar And Fat In Frozen Dairy Desserts.

7Javidi, F., Razavi, S.M.A., Behrouzian, F., and Alghooneh, A. (2016). The influence of basil seed gum, guar gum and their blend on the rheological, physical and sensory properties of low fat ice cream. Food Hydrocolloids, 52, 625-633.

8Judie, B. (2018). Reducing Sugar in Sweet Frozen Treats. Natural Product Insider, 8 (6).

9McCain, H. R., Kaliappan, S., & Drake, M. A. (2018). Invited review: Sugar reduction in dairy products. Journal of Dairy Science, 101(10), 8619-8640.

10Pinto, S. & Dharaiya, C. N. (2014). Development of a low fat sugar free frozen dessert. International Journal of Agricultural Science, 4 (2), 090-101.

11Pintor, A., Escalona-Buendía, H. B. and Totosaus, A. (2017). Effect of inulin on melting and textural properties of low-fat and sugarreduced ice cream: optimization via a response surface methodology. International Food Research Journal, 24(4), 1728-1734.

12Ruben. (2018). The Role of Fat in Ice Cream. Ice Cream Science.

13Syed, Q. A., Anwar, S., Shukat, R., & Zahoor, T. (2018). Effects of different ingredients on texture of ice cream. Journal of Nutritional Health & Food Engineering, 8(6), 422-435.