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New Sugar-Like Sweetener is in the Works

Posted Dec 18 2008 8:14pm

Here we go again.

Scientists believe that a low-calorie sweetener that tastes like sugar and could help control diabetes and obesity might be around thecorner, a new study finds, according to Food Navigato.com/Europe.

Forgive me for being cynical, but I just can't fathom how a sweetener produced in a lab can be safe.

Just look at how every artificial sweetener now on the markket, including aspartame and the popular newcomer, sucralose (Splenda), has been plagued by questions about their safety, as I've noted previously.

But scientists at the University of Manchester and The University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore claim that they've made a major advance in understanding what makes a substance taste sweet.

The researchers' discovery could help pave the way for new low-calorie sweeteners that mimic sugar but leave no bitter aftertaste.

"Our study has for the first time measured how sugar and some synthetic sweeteners interact with two types of taste receptors on the tongue," Dr Graeme Conn in Manchester's Faculty of Life Sciences told FoodNavigator.com.

"Some synthetic sweeteners only interact with one receptor. We found that sugar interacts with both. Similarly, sucralose, the sweetener used in Splenda, also interacted with both receptors but with a greater intensity to sugar.

"Knowing what molecular mechanisms are at play has given us a greater understanding of what makes sugar taste sweet and will no doubt help us design better sweeteners."

This all sounds well and good, but I'm still dubious about the capability of creating a safe sweetener in a chemical lab.

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