The science behind the Amajoya Sugar Free Collection

Ever wondered how sugar free sweets are made? Read more on the science behind the Amajoya Sugar Free Collection.

The history of Amajoya

To be a surgeon, one needs to possess certain qualities, including a complex understanding of science, extreme precision, natural talent and a whole lot of passion. These same qualities are just as essential for a master confectioner. Fancy that!

It was just over twenty years ago that a Cape Town-based surgeon decided to follow his heart (or was it was his sweet-tooth?) and train as a sweet-maker at one of Germany’s most prestigious confectionery schools. Here, his doctor’s understanding of science and chemistry gave him a distinct edge.

On his return to the Mother City, he could craft and hone his recipes, using the finest ingredients to create distinctly different and delightful candy. And so, the Amajoya artisanal confectionary company was born.

Extraordinary and unique

The Amajoya commitment is to use fewer ingredients, ingredients closer to nature and fewer processed ingredients. We continually reformulate using less processed ingredients where possible on our quest for cleaner, simpler labels with less ingredients.

Our philosophy is that of balance and awareness of how you treat yourself in relation to your total daily food intake and activity.

Amajoya focuses on a unique way of combining and making the delicious collection of sweets. Our process is proprietary. Our founder, a medical doctor who left his career in neurosurgery, and followed his passion for sweet manufacturing, has a talent for technology and truly applies art and science to the process and recipes of the Amajoya Collection. Nothing in our way of making our sweets or our recipes is ordinary. The Amajoya Way is always extraordinary and unique.

We blend quality ingredients to create a taste that is unique in the world of luxurious sumptuous candy. When you pick Amajoya, you can be sure you’re getting a real product made with the best ingredients, care, integrity and a whole lot of love.

Authenticity is important for Amajoya. So, cleaner labelling (GMO free, no hydrogenated fats, real ingredients) and striving to keep our indulgent sweet collection packed with better stuff, is important to us. By the end of the year, all our sweets will only contain natural colourants.

The Amajoya Collection

Amajoya is the leading retail hard candy brand in South Africa. In 2013, we launched our first range of solid sugar free sweets, a classic Butterscotch, Buttermint and a three Fruit flavoured packet.

In 2018, we launched a luxury range of filled sugar free sweets with cocoa crème filling: Butterscotch, Buttermint, Coffee and Vanilla Raspberry.

Understanding the science of sugar free

Now a quick lesson on the science that goes into the sugar free world of products. It is important to understand a few scientific facts.

What is the definition of sugar free confectionery?

In nearly all countries in the world, it means that the total sugar content must be less than 0,5 g per 100 g.

What is a sugar?

A sugar is either a monosaccharide, such as glucose (dextrose) or fructose, or a disaccharide, such as sucrose (normal granulated sugar), maltose or lactose (milk sugar).

A saccharide is the most basic unit of sugar/carbohydrates. It is either a 5-membered ring, such as fructose, or a 6-membered ring, such as glucose.

A disaccharide, for example sucrose, consists of one fructose unit and one glucose unit. These can be split by a process, called hydrolysis, which requires one molecule of water, heat and acidity, or it can be broken down by the enzymes in your small bowel. This is why your blood glucose rises so quickly.

Making sugar free sweets

Sugar free sweets have a very low glycaemic index. Food items, such as bread (75) and sugar (65) have high glycaemic values. Isomalt (the ingredient we use in Amajoua) has a very low glycaemic index of about 5.

To make sugar free sweets, the sugar and glucose syrup must be replaced by something. These are called bulk sweeteners (polyols), such as isomalt, maltitol, erythritol or sorbitol.

Our preferential sweetener is isomalt. We buy our isomalt from Germany. It is made from granulated sugar in a two-step process.


Polyols are generally less sweet than sugar, so normally non-nutritive (intense) sweeteners are added. These substances do not provide any nutrition. The common artificial sweeteners are sucralose, aspartame, acesulfame K or saccharin .

Sucralose is made from sugar. These substances are generally 400-600 times as sweet as sugar and are used in parts per million. Stevia is an example of a natural non-nutritive sweetener.

Polyols are not well-absorbed in the small bowel and pass to the large bowel (colon). Here they are fermented, giving rise to short-chain fatty acids. The colonic cells first choice of nutrients are these fatty acids. There is also evidence that a healthier type of bacterial growth is encouraged in your colon.

Why are polyols known to cause laxative issues?

When too much polyol passes into the colon, one get excess fermentation which produces gas and osmotic pressure which can cause diarrhoea.

In practice, consumers all over the world get used to this and usually know the number of sweets they can consume per day.

We recommend you start with two per day and gradually increase until your limit is achieved. Within two weeks of regular intake, many people can consume more. Usually the number of sweets ranges from three to 10 sweets spread out over the day.

The laxative tolerance also depends on your diet. Isomalt belongs to a group of carbohydrates called Low Digestible Carbohydrates, such as fibre, beans, onions, grains, etc. Our Western diet is lacking in these. Your individual tolerance will also depend on the mix of foods that you are eating.

Why are sugar free sweets more expensive? 

Isomalt is about four times as expensive as granulated sugar.

Type 2 diabetes is caused by a progressive loss of beta cell function in your pancreas, frequently on the background of insulin resistance. Usually there are both genetic (predisposition) and lifestyle factors, such as being overweight or having the metabolic syndrome.

Eating sugar free sweets will give you pleasure. But, will also reduce your insulin demand and prevent continuous blood glucose elevation from frequent snacking. Sugar free sweets are also lower in energy (calories).

Remember that sugar free sweets are no good in an emergency if you experience hypoglycaemia (low blood glucose).

Amajoya Sugar Free Collection

Our new sugar free filled sweets contain isomalt in the casing and maltitol in the cocoa crème filling. Our cocoa is natural, non-alkalised, meaning it is much higher in polyphenols. The vegetable fat in the cocoa crème is non-hydrogenated and comes from sustainable sources. The casing has dairy components i.e. low lactose milk powder and butter.

All the filled sweets contain only natural colourants and natural flavours. We are in the process of changing all our sweets to natural colourants which will be complete by year end.

Production takes place locally in Atlantis, Cape Town, with one of the most high-tech sugar free plants in the world. We are obsessed with quality and this is evident in our processes. We are British Retail Consortium (BRC) accredited which means we have global food safety certification.

All our raw materials pass through 0,2mm or 0,4mm inline wedge wire filters. We also pass all the sugar free sweets through two highly-sensitive metal detectors.

Our collection is available at leading retailers around the country including Checkers, Pick and Pay, Spar, Clicks, Dischem and the Alpha Pharmacy Group.


Because everyone deserves a little indulgence.