Carbohydrates in Neocate is a question we often encounter. The Neocate Nutrition Services team of dietitians gets lots of questions every day from parents. They want to know more about Neocate and often ask what it is and how it can help their little ones. But, as many of us do with a lot of our food, some parents ask about the unique ingredients that make Neocate so special. The ingredients in Neocate – especially the amino acids – make us unique among formulas! In this post, we answer common questions about carbohydrates in Neocate products.
Why do you use carbohydrates in Neocate?
Carbohydrates are one of the primary nutrients our bodies need to grow and thrive. Carbohydrates include most fibers, starches, and sugars, and most carbohydrates in our diets come from plants. (Did you know? Glucose – a type of sugar – is the primary energy source for the human brain!)
Children get about 50% of their total energy from carbohydrates. They are essential for health! We combine them with fats, amino acids, vitamins, and minerals to form a nutritionally complete blend of nutrients in Neocate.
Some Neocate products contain prebiotics – particular types of fiber. We (humans) can’t digest prebiotics, but some of our good gut bacteria can absorb these forms of fiber. That’s the primary way prebiotics help to support digestive health. Learn more about prebiotics.
See the table below for the various sources of carbohydrates in Neocate products. First, here are the main reasons we include them:
- Corn syrup solids – as a source of carbohydrate
- Maltodextrin (from corn) – as a source of carbohydrate or a “carrier” for micronutrients
- Fructooligosaccharides (oligofructose) – as a source of prebiotic
- Inulin – as a source of prebiotic
- Rice starch – as a natural thickener
- Sucrose (sugar) – for the best taste
If you’re curious about the use of corn syrup solids in nutritional formulas like Neocate, please read Corn Allergy 101. This post explains that these are highly refined in a multi-step process designed to remove protein. It also walks through the differences between corn syrup solids and high fructose corn syrup (not the same!).
How much sugar is in Neocate products?
To answer this question, let’s quickly review what sugars are. First of all, “sugars” are carbohydrate molecules that are one or two units long: mono- or disaccharides. These are also called simple sugars and include glucose and sucrose. Simple sugars are digested and absorbed easily and quickly. Starches are longer carbohydrate molecules. They are digested and absorbed more slowly than sugars. Whiles starches are not sugars; the body eventually breaks them down into sugars. (Fiber and prebiotics, even more, complicated than carbohydrates, are also not sugars.)
There are two ways to classify the types of sugars in food, beverage, or nutritional formula. “Total sugars” describes all of the sugars in a product and includes sugars that come from all ingredients. For example, corn syrup solids are mostly starch, with a small amount of naturally present mono- and disaccharides. Total sugars also include added sugars. “Added sugars” are sugars that are added to the food, usually to improve the taste. They include table sugar, honey or agave syrup, for example.
This table shows you, per 100 calories, how many grams of total sugars and added sugars each Neocate product contains. (For infant formula, 100 calories are five fluid ounces; and for Neocate Junior and Splash formulas, 100 calories is ~3.3 fluid ounces)
Table Sugars – Carbohydrates in Neocate
|Neocate® Syneo® Infant||
|Neocate® Infant DHA/ARA||
||2.6 g||1.9 g|
|Neocate® Junior, Unflavored (without prebiotic fiber)||
|Neocate® Junior with Prebiotics, Unflavored||
|Neocate® Splash, Unflavored||
||5.2 g||4.7 g|
|Neocate® Junior, Tropical||
|Neocate® Junior, Chocolate||
||1.9 g||1.1 g|
|Neocate® Junior, Vanilla||
||2.4 g||1.6 g|
Neocate® Junior, Strawberry
||2.4 g||1.6 g|
|Neocate® Splash, Grape||
||5.3 g||4.7 g|
|Neocate® Splash, Orange-Pineapple||
||5.1 g||4.7 g|
|Neocate® Splash, Tropical Fruit||
||5.1 g||4.7 g|
Carbohydrates in Neocate: Why do you add sugars to some Neocate products?
Unlike other formulas, amino acid-based formulas that are plain, or unflavored, can taste bitter or sour. (Young infants don’t seem to notice this as much.) This is due to the use of amino acids – which are 100% non-allergenic – as the protein source. Our product team uses artificial flavors to offer options with the best taste. Sugar and/or artificial sweeteners help to balance out the flavored versions to taste their best.
Do you really need to use sugar and artificial sweeteners?
Some parents ask if we need to use sugars or artificial sweeteners at all. Therefore we say yes ‘yes, we do for now.’ That’s because artificial sweeteners help the flavors to taste their best. Without an artificial sweetener, we’d have to add more sugar – too much! – To reach a balanced flavor. That amount of sugar could rival the sugar in a soft drink or soda, and exceed recommendations. The artificial sweeteners we use are safe and approved, and we only use one in each product that works well with the flavor.
Can you use artificial sweeteners, but no added sugars?
It’s possible to make flavored formulas without added sugars, but the result isn’t always best. That’s because avoiding sugars usually requires 2+ artificial sweeteners. Since some parents and caregivers prefer one artificial sweetener, that’s what we stick with. Versions made with 2+ artificial sweeteners tend to taste, well, very artificially sweet. We find a combination of one artificial sweetener plus some added sugar usually gives a more balanced taste. If we can make a good-tasting formula without added sugars, we do. But if it doesn’t meet our taste standards, we won’t do it!
Every flavored Neocate formula is backed by extensive taste testing and flavor development. We offer several unflavored options for families seeking a hypoallergenic formula without any artificial sweeteners. We also have one flavored Neocate formula with no added sugars, Tropical Neocate Junior.
This table shows you which Neocate products contain a single artificial sweetener and, if so, which sweetener:
|Neocate Products||Artificial Sweetener|
|Neocate® Syneo® Infant||None|
|Neocate® Infant DHA/ARA||None|
|Neocate® Junior, Unflavored
(without prebiotic fiber)
|Neocate® Junior with Prebiotics, Unflavored||None|
|Neocate® Splash, Unflavored||None|
|Neocate® Junior, Tropical||Acesulfame Potassium|
|Neocate® Junior, Chocolate||Sucralose|
|Neocate® Junior, Vanilla||Sucralose|
|Neocate® Junior, Strawberry||Sucralose|
|Neocate® Splash, Grape||Sucralose|
|Neocate® Splash, Orange-Pineapple||Sucralose|
|Neocate® Splash, Tropical Fruit||Acesulfame Potassium|
-Rob McCandlish, RDN