Sunday, June 23, 2019

"Closing In On a Non-sugar Sweetener — One Without a Weird Aftertaste"

Like next-gen batteries, one of the Holy Grails of science.
Also like batteries, not easy.
From Discover Magazine, June 17:
The first time someone synthesized saccharin, the artificial sweetener in Sweet’N Low, it was an accident. A scientist studying coal tar in 1879 didn’t wash his hands before eating dinner and was surprised to taste a sweet residue from the lab on his fingertips. Same goes for the invention of the sweetener sodium cyclamate in 1937: the unwitting pioneer, who was working on a fever medication, put his cigarette down on the lab bench, and when he picked it back up, he detected something sweet. Both products went on be included in sweetener packets and diet soda the world over. The takeaway: The search for a viable sugar alternative is no modern undertaking (and also, some chemists should probably brush up on their laboratory safety skills).

Non-sugar sweeteners can give food and drink a sweet taste without the added calories, spiked blood sugar, and potential for tooth decay of good old sucrose. Finding an ideal one, then, would be a windfall. But to date none have been quite perfect: they sometimes come with negative health effects of their own, and they don’t taste quite right. But now, with a better understanding of the molecules that deliver a sweet kick, scientists might be getting closer.

Sweet Science
Researchers from Washington University examined the molecular structure of a protein made by the stevia plant, Stevia rebaudiana. People have been chewing the sweet leaves of this Central and South American herb for the better part of a millennium, and researchers are now trying to harness its flavor. The researchers’ goal was to understand how the plant synthesizes the molecules that give the eponymous sugar substitute Stevia its sugary taste.

Stevia’s big advantage is that it’s far more potent than sugar, meaning it delivers fewer calories for the same level of sweetness. “It takes two hundred sucrose molecules to equal the same sweetness of one Stevia molecule,” explains Joseph Jez of Washington University, the lead author of the study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. “At a chemical level, Stevia has more juice.”....
If interested see also:
Michelangelo's David Comes Out Against Taxing Sugary Drinks
Drink more sugar!

HT that the big guy was out there, Incidental Economist.

I was thinking of calling our tipster the Coincidental Economist because the same day they posted (Mar. 19) the Financial Times' Comment section was having some of their journos weigh in on:
Is the sugar tax an example of the nanny state going too far? 

Singapore’s Nutrition Innovation Raises $5m Seed Round for Low-Glycemic Index Sugar as List of Sugar Reduction Technology Startups Grows
Big, big, big addressable markets are always of interest....

Coming to a Sweet Tooth Near You: Proteins 10,000 Times Sweeter Than Sugar

"Are Alzheimer's and diabetes the same disease?" (and high fructose corn syrup does a cameo)

"Researchers have finally discovered the key to naturally stripping sugar from all our foods"
Mushrooms. Is there nothing they can't do?