New Low-calorie Sweetener May Improve Gut Health

Posted by Ilsa Miller on September 1st, 2022

Judging by the variety of sodas, candies and baked goods sold around the world, it's clear that people love their sweet tooth. But consuming too much white sugar or artificial sweeteners can lead to health problems. In the search for a better sweetener, researchers now report a low-calorie concoction that is as sweet as table sugar and, in laboratory experiments, fed "good" gut microbes.

Artificial sweeteners are popular because they allow people to eat sweets without calories. However, while they are considered safe for human consumption, studies in animals and humans suggest that some of them stimulate appetite, leading to increased food intake and weight gain, among other negative health consequences. Therefore, researchers have been turning to natural sources of low-calorie or extremely sweet substances as possible substitutes. For example, galactooligosaccharides found in mammalian milk are low-calorie sugars with prebiotic activity that can act as an energy source for beneficial gut microbes, but they are not sweet enough to replace sucrose. In addition, extracts of Luo Han Guo contain mannoside, a compound that is 200 to 300 times sweeter than sucrose. But these extracts sometimes produce odors that can be removed with enzymes. Therefore, F. Javier Moreno and colleagues hope to use the advantages of these two natural substances to use enzymes to modify glycosides and produce galactooligosaccharides at the same time to make a new low-calorie sweetener.

The researchers started with lactose and mannoside V (the main mannoside in monk fruit). When they added beta-galactosidase, the researchers got a mixture that contained mostly galactooligosaccharides and a small amount of modified mannoside. A trained sensory panel reported that the new combination had a sweet taste similar to sucrose, suggesting it may be acceptable to consumers. In test-tube experiments, the new sweetener increased levels of several beneficial human gut microbes, including Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus. In addition, bacterial production of metabolites such as acetate, propionate, and butyrate increased, suggesting that this mixture may have a prebiotic effect on the gut microbiota. In these preliminary analyses, the new sweetener is promising, the researchers said, and their next step is to study the substance's effects on human gut health more closely.

What is sweetener?

Sweeteners are another food additive besides sugar that can sweeten food. Many people may think that sweeteners are all artificial chemicals, but some sweeteners are actually natural plant extracts. Sweetener means any compound with a sweet taste, but does not include sugar or other carbohydrates or polyhydric alcohols (i.e., sugar alcohols). Sweeteners are used in place of sugar in a variety of foods such as soft drinks, dried fruit, desserts, and chewing gum.

A sweetener is a substance added to a food or drink to impart a sweet taste, either because it contains a type of sugar, or because it contains a sweetened sugar substitute. Many artificial sweeteners have been invented and are now used in commercially produced foods and beverages. Natural non-sugar sweeteners are also present, such as glycyrrhizin found in licorice.

Lifeasible, a supplier of agro-related products and services, now has nine new sweetener products in its food additives product line, aiming to help researchers create more healthier food.

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Ilsa Miller

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Ilsa Miller
Joined: March 7th, 2020
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