The study found that the sweetener could also improve your gut health.
People adore their sweet treats, as seen by the enormous range of sodas, candies, and baked goods that are sold globally. However, consuming artificial sweeteners or white table sugar in excess might have negative effects on your health. Researchers looking for a better sweetener have recently published findings in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry of the American Chemical Society (ACS). The low-calorie mixture is as sweet as table sugar and, in lab tests, feeds “good” gut microbes.
The popularity of artificial sweeteners has skyrocketed because they allow individuals to enjoy sweets without the accompanying calories. Although they are thought to be safe for intake by people, research on both humans and animals suggests that some of them may stimulate appetite, resulting in increased food consumption and weight gain as well as other negative health outcomes.
As a result, scientists have started looking for low-calorie or very sweet compounds derived from natural sources as potential substitutes. Galactooligosaccharides, for instance, are low-calorie sugars with prebiotic activity that may be a source of energy for beneficial gut microbes but aren’t quite sweet enough to replace table sugar. These sugars can be found in mammalian milk. Alternatively, mogrosides, which are 200–300 times sweeter than table sugar, are found in extracts from the luo han guo fruit. However, these extracts sometimes contain off-flavors which can be removed using enzymes.
So, F. Javier Moreno and colleagues 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 mogroside in 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, including Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus bacterial species. In addition, increases in bacteria-produced metabolites, such as acetate, propionate, and butyrate, indicated that the mixture could potentially have a prebiotic effect on the gut microbiome. The researchers say that the new sweetener holds promise in these initial analyses, and their next step is to study the substance’s impact on human gut health more closely.
Reference: “Prebiotic Potential of a New Sweetener Based on Galactooligosaccharides and Modified Mogrosides” by Ana Muñoz-Labrador, Rosa Lebrón-Aguilar, Jesús E. Quintanilla-López, Plácido Galindo-Iranzo, Silvana M. Azcarate, Sofia Kolida, Vasiliki Kachrimanidou, Virginia Garcia-Cañas, Lisa Methven, Robert A. Rastall, F. Javier Moreno and Oswaldo Hernandez-Hernandez, 13 July 2022, Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.
The study was funded by Optibiotix Health Plc (York, U.K.), the Spanish Ministry of Science, Innovation, and Universities, and the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program. One of the study’s authors is employed by Optibiotix Health Plc.