Sunday, September 24, 2006

What's PGPR Doing In Sugar-Free Chocolate?

Have you heard of Polyglycerol Polyricinoleate (PGPR) before?

Ever since I started livin' la vida low-carb, I have become like a hawk reading nutritional labels and ingredients of foods that are supposed to be acceptable for people who are following the low-carb way of life. Anytime I see something strange that I've never heard of before, then I know it's time to do some research and find out what it is really all about.

One such ingredient is something known as PGPR, or Polyglycerol Polyricinoleate. This is something that you will find in the ingredients list for Dove Sugar-Free Chocolates made by Mars, Inc. I personally LOVE Dove chocolates and was thrilled to learn they made a sugar-free version which I was hoping to add to my low-carb lifestyle. But if the whopping 17g of the nasty sugar alcohol maltitol they use to sweeten each bag didn't turn me off, then the PGPR did!

My food science source informs me that PGPR is an emulsifier used in chocolate and is made from castor bean oil. It is used primarily to improve the viscosity of the chocolate so it will melt in your mouth better. The lower the viscosity, the better the texture feels inside of your mouth. Products like chocolate chips and Hershey's kisses which are thicker chocolates have much higher viscosity so they will keep their shape.

The only other approved emulsifier used in the United States besides PGPR is lecithin while European chocolates can also contain YN (ammonium phosphatide) and CITREM (citric acid esters of mono- and di-glycerides).

Why do manufacturers use PGPR? Cost-cutting, of course. Our society relies so heavily on mass-marketed products that businesses will do whatever they can to cut corners in production to bring what they believe is an acceptable end product to the consumer at the lowest possible cost.

Sounds like a smart business strategy, right? After all, why else would all these companies be pouring stomach-busting maltitol and lactitol in their products? It's cheap and the consumer backlash is minimal, that's why.

Using PGPR enables the chocolate company to actually cut down on the amount of cacao butter they add to their product which is much more expensive than sugar. But the problem comes in when you attempt to make the chocolate sugar-free since sugar alternatives are quite a bit more expensive than sugar is. The varying levels of PGPR allows companies to change the taste, texture, and other such properties of the chocolate.

Although there are no specific safety concerns with PGPR and it can work well for creating a decent chocolate product, the sticking point for me is the fact that it could be used to cut corners which produces nothing more than an inferior product. In other words, did the Mars company use PGPR to purposefully make their Dover Sugar-Free Chocolates as cheaply made as possible? That's not doing the consumer any favors and I'm here to call them on it.


If you are looking for some high-quality sugar-free, low-carb chocolates, then you may want to visit They have the very best selection of chocolates available for people who are diabetic or enjoying the benefits of livin' la vida low-carb. No PGPR shows up in these chocolates.

Be on the lookout for this new mysterious ingredient called PGPR so you will know which chocolate companies are cutting corners to sell you an inferior product. Refuse to just settle for this and demand the very best. If you are going to indulge, then make it the highest-quality possible, right?

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Blogger Cindy said...

I'll stick with my ChocoPerfection....and thanks for that endorsement!

9/24/2006 8:04 PM  
Blogger Bill said...


I share your aversion to Maltitol and refuse to buy or eat any product containing that substance. Aside from the gastric distress it causes, I recently read an article indicating Maltitol has a rather high Glycemic Index and probably a high glycemic load.

9/25/2006 10:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have had the Dove chocolates and they tasted extremely good. As I have had no problems with sugar alcohols as long as I stick to the recommended serving size or less, and you state there are no health concerns associated with PGPR, I will likely continue to buy them on the rare occasions when I do buy SF chocolates. Although the ChocoPerfection bars sound great, you have to order them and have them shipped. That would mean I would have too much chocolate sitting in my house tempting me. I do much better if I can go to the store, get one small bag, and eat it over the next few days. If I had a case of chocolate bars in my house I know I would be tempted to eat it daily. Sometimes, in my very hectic life, convenience has to come over quality. Hey, at least I don't hit the vending machines at work and eat McDonald's for lunch anymore.

9/25/2006 12:18 PM  
Blogger 1Peter3 said...

I went to the site and surfed around a bit, but it seemed to me like most of the candies and chocolates on there still had what seemed like an inordinate amount of sugar alcohols in them. (With a few notable exceptions). Maybe not everyone is as sensitive to sugar alcohols as I am, but with anywhere from 17-24+ grams of sugar alcochol per serving (3 measly pieces of hard candy or chocolate), those certainly won't be on my list of treats.

If PGPR has no specific safety concerns, I'd a lot rather deal with that than all those sugar alcohols - although in the case of the Dove sugar free chocolates, they still have far too much sugar alcohol in them for me to even consider using them, so it's a moot point.

I prefer to come up with my own chocolate concoctions, using baking chocolate (chocolate liquor), stevia, cream, and butter, or cocoa powder, cream cheese, vanilla, etc... You know, real ingredients, instead of something weird that was concocted in a test tube. I'm having trouble getting the results to come out hard and stable (like a chocolate bar) at room temperature, but nibbling on the experimental concoctions certainly satisfies my chocolate cravings.

Other than that, I also use the Atkins Caramel fudge bars, because they contain no sugar alcohols at all, and are readily available locally at both BJ's and Walmart. Walmart also carries several of the other Atkins caramel bar varieties, none of which has any sugar alcohols, but the fudgies are my favorite. :)

9/25/2006 12:20 PM  
Blogger 1Peter3 said...

Oh I almost forgot - I buy my baking chocolate from a local chocolate manufacturer, Wilbur's Chocolate in Lititz, Pa.

They have excellent chocolates, and you can order the "Reo Wafers" which are chocolate liquor/baking chocolate wafers from their website, - click on consumer items, then sugar free to find the baking chocolate wafers.

There are other sugar free chocolate items as well, but most of them are sweetened with maltitol. However there is that one item - the Frontier Dark Chocolate Nuggets (Mercury)which are sweetened with isomalt, erythritol and ogliofructose. I'm not very familiar with those sweeteners - the erythritol is obviously a sugar alcohol, but I don't know if it's one of the truly gut wrenching ones or not. Next time I'm in their store, I'll see if they have any of this in stock and find out how much sugar alcohol is in them.

A couple of caveats: If anyone is interested in ordering from them, they don't ship during the hot summer months, and they're still not set up to order directly online, but it is possible to order by email, mail, fax or phone. Also, after buying some of the baking chocolate at their store this morning, I see that the prices are a bit higher to order them, plus you'll have to pay shipping too.

9/25/2006 11:31 PM  

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