A newly developed sweetener should also strengthen the intestinal flora -

New low-calorie sweetener may improve gut health

We seem to have a natural tendency to eat sweets, but high sugar intake comes with many health issues. Although artificial sweeteners achieve adequate sweetness, they have also been linked to adverse health effects.

However, the newly developed sweetener may offer health benefits through the combination of sweetness and functionality of prebiotic fibers, reports an international research team on the results of their new study in the "ACS Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry". The sweetener could be a healthier alternative to table sugar and artificial sweeteners currently available.

Artificial sweeteners as a sugar substitute

Given the health issues that table sugar can cause, artificial sweeteners are growing in popularity because they provide a sweet taste without the calories, researchers report.

However, for some sweeteners, studies have already provided evidence that they can stimulate appetite, which can lead to increased food intake and weight gain, as well as other negative health consequences.

Look for natural alternatives

The research team therefore looked for low-calorie and extremely sweet substances from natural sources that could serve as a substitute for sugar. They came across so-called galactooligosaccharides, which are found in the milk of mammals, on the one hand, and certain extracts from the Luo Han Guo fruit, known as mogrosides, on the other.

Galacto-oligosaccharides are low-calorie sugars with a prebiotic effect that may provide an energy source for beneficial gut microbes, but aren't sweet enough to replace table sugar, the scientists say.

Mogrosides are compounds that are 200 to 300 times sweeter than table sugar but sometimes taste bad, the research team said. The mogrosides examined in the study came from the Luo Han Guo fruit, which belongs to the squash family and is also used as a herbal remedy in traditional Chinese medicine.

New sweetener developed

The bad taste of mogrosides can be eliminated with enzymes. The researchers therefore wanted to bring together the best aspects of the two natural substances by using enzymes to modify the mogrosides and at the same time produce galactooligosaccharides for a new low-calorie sweetener.

They first started with lactose and mogroside V (the main mogroside in the Luo Han Guo fruit). Adding enzymes called β-galactosidases then created a mixture containing mostly galactooligosaccharides and a small amount of modified mogrosides, the team reports.

In testing, this new combination achieved a sweetness similar to sucrose (table sugar), so it could be an acceptable alternative to table sugar for consumers.

In lab experiments, the new sweetener also increased levels of several beneficial human gut microbes - including Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus species - and increased metabolites produced by bacteria, such as acetate, propionate and butyrate. .

Prebiotic sugar substitute?

The mixture could have a prebiotic effect on the intestinal flora and the new sweetener appears to be a promising sugar substitute according to the first analyses. Next, the researchers want to examine the effects of the substance on human intestinal health in more detail.

"In summary, it can be said that these substrates can be considered as new prebiotic sweeteners and represent a practical and innovative approach to reduce the sucrose content of foods," concludes the research team. (fp)

Author and source information

Show now

This text corresponds to the specifications of the specialized medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been verified by health professionals.


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: Prebiotic potential of a new sweetener based on galacto-oligosaccharides and modified mogrosides; in: ACS Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry (published 07/13/2022), pubs.acs.orgAmerican Chemical Society: New low-calorie sweetener may also improve gut health, study finds (published 08/04/2022) , eurekalert.org

Important Note:
This article contains general advice only and should not be used for self-diagnosis or treatment. It cannot substitute a visit to the doctor.