Stevia: Scientists Have Removed the Bitter Aftertaste in The Sugar Substitute

Nov 17, 2015 04:00 PM EST | By Alexis Villarias

The food industry is slowly shifting toward healthier food option.  One of the discoveries as an alternative substitute for sugar is stevia.  However, this has a bitter after taste, which researchers at Cornell University have successfully eliminated through physical means.

As published in the university website, Cornell food scientists were able to reduce the bitter after taste of stevia through physical means.  According to Samriddh Mudgal, M.S. '15, lead author of the study, "The food industry constantly evaluates and uses several alternate high-intensity sweeteners to duplicate the taste of sugar, usually with no calories.  Growing demand for natural ingredients have led to the rising popularity of steviol glycosides, which are natural sweeteners extracted from stevia leaves. They've been in use for centuries in South America. Since these steviol glycosides have a negligible effect on blood glucose, it is an attractive, natural sweetener for people on carbohydrate-controlled diets."

Researchers identified the component which is called rebaudisoside A or "Reb A" in stevia that triggers two bitter receptors on the human tongue then the modified it using non-chemical means.  They tested the end result in an orange juice and claimed that the sweetness stayed.

"It's a chemical-free, economical, and purely physical interaction-based approach to control Reb A's interaction with taste receptors, which will bolster its taste profile," says Mudgal.

Stevia has been making its way into the market for some time now.  However its bitter aftertaste has been its major drawback.  The leafy green plant found in Paraguay and Brazil has been used as a sweetening agent, traditional treatment for burns, colic, stomach problems and contraceptives.  It's actually 200 times sweeter than sugar and more importantly, it doesn't spike a person's blood sugar levels making it an attractive natural sweetener for diabetics and people who need to control their carbohydrates. 

This breakthrough could encourage the beverage industry, packaged dressings, cream sauces, powdered soups and dairy products to use stevia.  As reported in Medical Daily, with the persistent efforts of key produces, stevia is finally being recognized for its natural, zero-calorie, sweetening properties.  It was previously predicted that stevia sales will increase its market value from $304 million in 2014 to $409 million by 2016.  Since the bitter after taste has been eliminated, it may actually accomplish that.

Will you try stevia as an alternative sweetener?  Let us know by leaving your comments below.

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