Co-founder of A1C Foods in Israel, Dr Mariela Glandt, has been concerned about rising rates of obesity and diabetes for years. And not without reason. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 39% of the global adult population is overweight, and one billion is either diabetic or prediabetic.
Metabolic disease, which refers to a group of risk factors that increase the risk of developing cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and stroke, is also an area of interest, the endocrinologist told delegates at FoodTech IL in Tel Aviv.
“Sixty percent of American adults have metabolic disease,” said Dr Glandt. “Cardiovascular disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s, all of these things have a common denominator: metabolic disease. Metabolic disease is caused by food. And this, we have a solution for.”
Tackling ‘the big no-nos’: Bread and chocolate
For Dr Glandt, the answer lies in what we eat. In her private practice, the endocrinologist claims that treating patients with 80% diet and 20% medication can, in some cases, reverse type 2 diabetes. “Metabolic disease is the number one thing we want to solve, and the fastest way to solve it is to take away the factor that causes it: carbohydrates and sugar.”
Of course, low carbohydrate diets are not new to the weight loss scene. Trending ketogenic (keto) and Palaeolithic (paleo) diets both restrict carbohydrate intake to varying degrees. While these diets have been associated with positive weight loss results in the short term, they can be ‘super hard to maintain’, A1C Foods' co-founder Ran Hirsch told FoodNavigator when we caught up at the event.
This is where A1C Foods comes in, he continued. Its aim? To create delicious, low carb food that makes low carbohydrate diets easy to maintain.
Under the ‘Eatsane’ brand, A1C Foods – named after a blood test used to diagnose type 1 and type 2 diabetes, as well as pre-diabetes – is producing low carbohydrate and glycaemic index (GI) chocolates and bread. Low GI food refers to food items that cause a lower and slower rise in blood glucose levels and, usually in turn, insulin levels.
The start-up’s bread product, for example, contains 21% plant-based protein, and is a source of good fats and nutrients, we were told. Boasting a GI rating of 30, A1C Foods' product contains dramatically less sugar than its conventional counterpart, which Hirsch said has, on average, a GI of 71 and above. “There are, of course, tonnes of low GI breads [available], but consumers say they taste like low GI bread.”
The line of chocolates comes in three flavours: classic, exotic (spiced), and coffee flavoured. While their GI rating varies according to taste profile, the classic chocolate product has a GI of 19. “This is amazingly low,” said Hirsch. “It is about the same GI as a good quality 85-90% chocolate, but the experience is much smoother and much nicer.”
The classic chocolate variety contains cocoa pulp, cocoa butter, cocoa, soy lecithin emulsion, almonds, vegetable oil, and spices.
All products are vegan, kosher, and suitable for those following a low carbohydrate diet. They are also devoid of artificial sweeteners. Rather, Dr Glandt, who formulates the recipes, uses conventional sugar in low quantities to ensure a lower GI score while simultaneously adjusting consumer pallets to lower levels of sweetness.
“We believe this is the way to stop and reverse the obesity and diabetes pandemic,” noted the start-up.
Expansion beyond Israel
A1C Foods is currently selling its products to 50 stores in Israel, but is struggling to keep up with demand. By the end of 2019, when Eatsane by A1C Foods will have officially launched, the company will be selling into hundreds of selling points in Israel.
The start-up is also eyeing US and EU expansion. Having finalised its US$900,000 seed round earlier this year, the company is preparing for a Q1 2020 post-seed round. “This should support our [ambition] to go outside of Israel,” Hirsch told us.
Indeed, A1C Foods predicts it will start operations in North America in 2020, with Europe the following year. “We are starting to talk to manufacturers in North America, Canada, and the US. We are also getting tons of interest from the Far East, where they have an enormous diabetes and obesity problem. In China alone, they have almost 100 million diabetics,” said Hirsch. “They know that from [our experience in bread] we will move into pasta. And from pasta, they want to know if we can make noodles.”
Beyond pasta, which is definitely on the cards, the start-up is also interested in low GI ice-cream. “We are trying to take on the ‘big no-nos’,” Hirsch continued. “We don’t believe in changing people. So instead of changing people’s habits, we are changing food.” A1C Food already has a ‘good prototype’ of its ice-cream product, with cookies and snacks pencilled in for future new product development.