Reearchers will closely study the substance’s impact on human gut health
From the wide variety of sodas, candies and baked goods that are sold worldwide, it’s clear that people love their sweet treats. But consuming too much white table sugar or artificial sweetener can lead to health issues. In the search for a better sweetener, researchers in the US now report a low-calorie mixture that is as sweet as table sugar and, in lab experiments, feeds “good” gut microbes.
For example, galactooligosaccharidesm found in mammalian milk, are low-calorie sugars with prebiotic activity that can be a source of energy for beneficial gut microbes, but they’re not quite sweet enough to replace table sugar. Alternatively, extracts from the luo han guo fruit contain mogrosides, compounds 200 to 300 times sweeter than table sugar. But these extracts sometimes have off-flavors, which can be removed with enzymes. So, researchers wanted to take advantage of the best aspects of both natural substances, using enzymes to modify mogrosides while simultaneously producing galactooligosaccharides for a brand-new low-calorie sweetener.
The researchers started with lactose and mogroside V (the primary mogrosidein luo han guo fruit). When they added β-galactosidase enzymes, the researchers obtained a mixture that contained mostly galactooligosaccharides and a small amount of modified mogrosides. A trained sensory panel reported that the new combination had a sweetness similar to that of sucrose (table sugar), suggesting it could be acceptable to consumers.
In test tube experiments, the new sweetener increased the levels of multiple human gut microbes that are beneficial.
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