Halva bar

Sweet sesame halva re-imaged as a dairy-free protein sports snack

Keen cyclists are turning halva, a traditional plant-based sweet in the Middle East, into a must-have energy fuel for athletes – offering NPD opportunities in sports nutrition.

“My favourite high calorie bike food is halva,” writes a cyclist on a Reddit online discussion forum.

“In addition to my electrolyte drink, I eat things like […] halva,” writes another cyclist on a different online forum discussing the best vegetarian options for keeping up with caloric needs during long-distance competition cycling.

According to Livestrong, one serving (28 grams) of halva has about 131 kcal, 3.5 grams of protein, a small amount of fibre, and significant amounts of minerals such as magnesium and phosphorus. The minerals have multiple approved EFSA claims, magnesium for example: “Magnesium contributes to electrolyte balance and a reduction of tiredness and fatigue.”

A sesame-based halva – the most familiar version in Europe and the US – is made of only two ingredients: sugar and tahini (pure sesame paste).

Tahini’s popularity is growing in the US thanks to increasing numbers of vegans who appreciate its high levels of protein, calcium, iron, and fibre.

This growing interest is propelling tahini beyond its niche of health food stores, and it’s being reinvented for Western palates.

Russ & Daughters Café in New York serves halva ice cream with salted caramel, producers like Brooklyn Sesame and Soom Foods are inventing mash-ups like chocolate halva spread, and the all-sesame business Seed & Mill is helping Americans to develop a taste for tahini.

And for cyclists – or any other athlete – a snack form of halva, like the chocolate-covered bar shown here, offers convenient, light, gluten-free plant-based instant fuel.

With such compelling benefits, it’s easy to forgive the very high sugar content (and of course the opportunity is there to develop a halva bar that replaces sugar with a form of sweetener that’s more acceptable to consumers).

Source: New Nutrition Business

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