New sugar substitutes in citrus offer opportunities to F&B industry

Replacing and reducing sugar in processed foods is a long-term goal of both the healthcare system and food and beverage industry

Finding natural, non-caloric sugar substitutes is desirable but challenging. However, researchers at the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS), US have made a breakthrough by discovering new, natural sweeteners in citrus for the first time.

This finding opens opportunities for the food industry to produce food and beverages (F&B) with lower sugar content and lower calories while maintaining sweetness and taste using natural products.

Yu Wang, associate professor of food science at UF/IFAS, managed the multi-year project that found eight new sweetener or sweetness-enhancing compounds in 11 citrus cultivars.

In addition to trying to find actual sweeteners in citrus, researchers looked to find sweetness enhancers that can significantly reduce the amount of sugar required to achieve the same level of perceived sweetness. To date, only six synthetic and two natural sweeteners/sweetness enhancers have been created and used by the food industry that are approved by the US Food and Drug Administration. These also have the negative side effects of unpleasant aftertaste and are expensive to produce.

Eleven selections from the UF/IFAS citrus breeding programme were selected for unique and exceptional flavours.

Image credit- shutterstock

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