You may have heard this sweeteners are not good for you. This is because they are either sources of added sugar and empty calories, or they may consist of artificial ingredients. Generally, these are not the healthiest foods you can eat. Generally, avoiding sweet products can help with weight management and metabolic disease, as well as other aspects of your health. However, if you have a sweet tooth, the last thing you want to do is cut out sweets altogether.
If you’ve ever been caught between avoiding sweets and indulging in them, then you might want to listen. Scientists have created a new sweetener that may actually support your health.
According to a new study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistrythe researchers reported that they developed a low-calorie ingredient combination that tastes as sweet as table sugar but also helps your intestine.
For these results, the researchers studied both low-calorie and extremely sweet substances from natural sources. They discovered several different ones. To start, they looked at galactooligosaccharides, low-calorie sugars with prebiotic activity. Researchers thought they could be a beneficial energy source for gut microbes: gut bacteria that have several important functions such as breaking down food, making vitamins and forming immune system. However, the prebiotics were not sweet enough to replace the taste of table sugar.
The researchers also looked at extracts from the fruit, Luo Han Guo, also known as monk fruit. The fruit contains mogrosides: compounds 200 to 300 times sweeter than table sugar. Consumed on their own, these extracts can have funky flavors. However, enzymes can remove extracts.
Once researchers discovered the pros and cons of both substances, they decided to take the best aspects of both and combine them to create something amazing. They used enzymes to modify mogrosides, and also produced galactooligosaccharides to combine them for a whole new low calorie sweetener.
After the combination was completed, a trained sensory panel reported that the new combination had a similar sweetness to table sugar. Additionally, in test-tube experiments, the new sweetener increased levels of multiple beneficial human gut microbes. The addition of metabolites produced by bacteria, such as acetate, propionate and butyrate, also showed that the mixture could also have a prebiotic effect on the gut microbiome.
This new sweetener has potential for future use. However, researchers have yet to investigate the substance’s impact on human gut health more closely.
Dr. Young also expresses some concerns about using a new sweetener to help build a healthy gut. Instead, she recommends eating plenty of vegetables and other healthier foods. “When it comes to gut health, a whole diet of assorted plant foods is good for gut health,” she says.
Kayla Garritano is a staff writer for Eat This, Not That! She graduated from Hofstra University, where she majored in Journalism and earned a double minor in Marketing and Creative Writing. Read more