Nutritious Goodness

We have all been confused by the ever-changing views about what we should and should not eat, fuelled by a constant stream of new studies about this or that. The headlines contradict themselves and steer us in different directions, and we are left wondering 'what is the truth? ' The age-old adage 'don't believe everything you read' comes to mind.

The human body is incredibly complex and varied and we are all different. What might be good for some can be detrimental to others, and the astronomical number of complex interactions that make us what we are is nearly unfathomable. As a result, you can search the Internet and find articles that back up any opinion.

At Perfect World we are not going to tell you what you should and should not eat, nor are we here to espouse opinions (as opposed to facts) about nutrition and health. Most everything bought on a supermarket shelf can be enjoyed in moderation, but we know that when it comes to treats, over-indulgence is a joyful pursuit not without its consequences.

With this in mind, we set out to make something that is just as delicious as the guilty pleasure, without the guilt. In other words you can enjoy it on a regular basis (as part of a healthy and balanced diet) whilst giving yourself a good dose of vitamins, minerals and unsaturated fats (see our ‘Delicious Desserts’ section for full details of these by flavour) And what’s more, you won’t be filling yourself full of sugar!

Unhealthy indulgences, like normal ice cream, chocolate bars, crisps and sugary drinks tend to be a big source of what are increasingly being referred to in the media as ‘empty calories’, meaning calories that don’t give you any nutritional benefit. It makes sense that these should be eaten only in small amounts. The idea of ‘empty calories’ is more advanced in the US than over here; there the recommended limit for empty calories is 160-260kcal per day (dependent on your age and sex) 1, and that is all the calories from added sugars and solid fats you are supposed to eat in an entire day! Perfect World Ice Cream gets most of its calories from nuts, coconut, and fruits with lots of lovely nutritious goodness intact. That means these calories can fit into your normal daily calorie allowance. We have no added sugars, our fats are mostly the unsaturated type (see our ‘Delicious Desserts’ section for percentage of these by flavour). And we know that replacing saturated fats with unsaturated fats in the diet contributes to the maintenance of normal blood cholesterol levels. Perfect World Ice Cream is also a good source (greater that 15% of GDA per 100g) of many vitamins and minerals (varies per flavour), and is even considered to be 'high' (greater than 30% GDA per 100g) in some of them. So how do we do it?

Sweeteners from natural origins!

What is Stevia?

Stevia sweetener appears to be a relatively new product in Western countries, but it has been in use for a very very long time. It is not related to sugar as it has no carbs and no calories! Due to its extreme potency it is usually added to other sources of sweetness, and we use it in combination with polyols, which are another class of sweeteners. Stevia and polyols come from natural origins and they are now gaining in popularity due to their low calorie, low or no carb, low GI nature, and their similarity in taste to sugar.

The Stevia plant is a member of the Chrysanthemum family, and it is native to Central and South America. Europeans first learned about Stevia in the Sixteenth Century when Spanish Conquistadors sent word to Spain that the natives of South America had used the plant to sweeten herbal tea since ancient times. Western interest in Stevia began around the turn of the twentieth Century when researchers in Brazil started hearing about a plant with leaves so sweet that just one leaf would sweeten a whole gourd full of bitter Mate tea. It was first studied by Paraguayan botanist, Moises S. Bertoni in 1899 who wrote some of the earliest articles on Stevia in the early 1900's.2

The sweet part of the plant is called a glycoside, and once extracted it forms a fine white crystalline powder, which is around 300 times sweeter than sugar.

What are polyols?

You may not have heard of them, but you probably already eat them every day. Polyols are also called ‘sugar alcohols,’ (no, they are not the kind of alcohol that gets you squiffy ;-)). They are related to sugar but not fully absorbed by the body, so they are partially or totally (depending on the type) deducted from the total carbohydrate content before calculating the energy contribution – this is why they are sometimes referred to as ‘unavailable carbohydrates.’ In the end this means that they contribute far fewer calories, have a lower GI and can be eaten on low carb diets such as Atkins.3

It’s a bit confusing, but even though polyols are not absorbed they are still listed under carbs in the nutrition tables. In some countries, such as the USA, they are not included in the total count.

There are many different polyols that occur naturally, and we use two of them in combinations. The specific names of ours are xylitol and erythritol. They are actually naturally occurring compounds which you find in plums, raspberries, cauliflower and many other fruit and veg. One of them, xylitol, is even produced in by your body (5-15g per day).

Xylitol tastes and looks like sugar but it has 1/3 of the calories and a very low GI of 7. It was first discovered in the late 19th century when it was found that a molecule called xylan found in Birch tree bark could easily be converted into xylitol. It came into use in Europe after the Finnish developed a method of small-scale industrial production to address the sugar shortages that resulted from WWII.

Xylitol tastes and looks like sugar but it has 1/3 of the calories and a very low GI of 7

Erythritol is a polyol with no calories at all! It is a bit less sweet than sugar and we use it in combination with the xylitol to keep the calories down. Erythritol is made by fermenting sugar, but because it is metabolised differently by the human body it has no GI and so like the other polyols it’s good for people who want to reduce their sugar intake, and for those who want to consume fewer empty calories.

What are functional foods?

In the 1980s the Japanese government created a class of foods called 'functional foods' and since then, the category has become recognised worldwide. Functional foods are foods that have a positive effect beyond just nutrition. They can be conventional foods, modified foods, medical foods or foods for special diets, but they all offer more benefits than just their nutritional value.

Nuts are functional foods as they contribute various vitamins and minerals in various quantities, which can have functional benefits. For instance, our Belgian Chocolate Brownie, Loads of Strawberry and Banana Walnut Chip flavours are all ‘a natural source of vitamin E’ which contributes to the protection of cells from oxidative stress.

Chicory Root Fibre (also called Inulin) is another of our functional food ingredients. Inulin is used by plants to store energy and it exists in many different plants, mainly in the roots. Chicory is the most common source of the Inulin used in food. Inulin is a dietary fibre and because we use this in our products on top of other natural sources of fibre (like nuts), three of our flavours are actually classified as being ‘a source of dietary fibre’.

Everyone knows that a good healthy well balanced diet includes a lot of dietary fibre. But you may not have known that you can increase your intake of dietary fibre by eating Perfect World Ice Cream!

Even in the case of Xylitol, there has been extensive research done over the past 100 years on its functional benefits which includes benefits for your teeth (feel free to Google).

What about the fats?

Go Nuts!

We use nuts to replace the dairy in Perfect World Ice Cream. To get that wonderfully creamy texture and mouth feel of ice cream you need fats, but we still wanted our ice cream to be a healthy alternative; so nuts gave us healthier unsaturated fats as well as vitamins, essential minerals and fatty acids, and many other bioactive substances such as phenolic antioxidants and phytosterols.

Because we use nuts, most of our flavours are either 'high in unsaturated fats' or 'high in mono-unsaturated fats’. Replacing saturated fats with unsaturated fats in the diet has been shown to contribute to the maintenance of normal blood cholesterol levels. High cholesterol is a risk factor in the development of coronary heart disease.

But what about Coconut?

Coconut is not actually a nut. It's a seed and there has been a lot of debate about its health properties. We use a bit of coconut for its creaminess, which comes from its saturated fats. We don't use too much, because we don't want Perfect World to taste of coconut, we want it to taste like ice cream!

We look to our almonds, cashews, eggs and fruits for nutritional benefits, and will leave the scientific community to legitimise (or not) the array of health claims being made about it. Coconut is delicious and it's natural, but we believe it should be eaten in moderation, so that’s how we use it.

Facts about eggs!

What is free range?

We use British Lion certified free-range eggs. The Lion Certification has stricter controls over animal welfare and egg handling than the normal free-range certification, and the code mirrors the RSPCA Freedom Food Standard. All farms are audited twice every 18 months and there are tighter controls over many aspects of the laying process, egg handling, and welfare. 4

Opinion on the consumption of eggs has ben changing recently. The British Heart Foundation says, ‘It's a myth that eggs are bad for your heart. Eggs can form part of a balanced diet, despite their perceived ‘bad’ reputation due to their cholesterol content.’ This despite acknowledging that eggs do contain some saturated fat.

As well as not actually raising your cholesterol levels, a large egg has around 6g of protein, as well as some lutein and zeaxanthin, which are potent antioxidants found in high concentrations in eyes, alongside vitamins and minerals. The NHS recommends that people with heart disease eat only three eggs per week.

Traditionally ice cream has been made with eggs but of course modern technology has given us alternatives, and lots of ice creams you see these days use something called mono and triglycerides of fatty acids instead (which we will refer to by its additive number E471 to save on typing!). Of course eggs add richness, flavour and body and E471 doesn't, but E471 is cheap and effective so lots of companies use it. E471 is a synthetic fat produced from glycerol and natural fatty acids, which can be either plant of animal based. The fatty acids used are chemically equivalent, so animal fats are often used, and if you are a vegan it's important to make sure the source is using vegan certified E471, as the fats are often mixed in production. We prefer to use eggs for the reasons listed above, and because we don't like to use any synthetic, artificial ingredients.