In the US, a significant part of people’s daily caloric intake comes from sugar. Added sugars alone account for 17% of calories consumed by adults in a single day. It’s widely noted that health experts believe that excess sugar consumption is a major cause of obesity and consequently diabetes. So why is it that food companies add sugar so liberally to their recipes?
One reason could be the way we perceive sweetness as a taste and the way sugar molecules interact with our tastebuds. As per this article on Quartz “sugar molecules have to land on our sweet-tasting receptors, most of which sit on the tip of the tongue. But sugar is notoriously bad at actually hitting those receptors, so bad that only 20% actually makes it…” If sugar is indeed as inefficient as a sweetener as this article claims, it would explain why so much is added to processed foods. Less sugar would also alter the over all taste of many popular processed foods.
In order to combat this issue, an Israeli start up called DouxMatok is successfully experimenting with a new way to make sugar “sweeter.” Apparently, food-grade silica can combine with sugar molecules and be processed by our tongues much more efficiently. Silica itself can be found in many foods and is said to strength bones and prevent osteoporosis.
Also according to Quartz, “When sugar-loaded silica hits saliva, it’s able to diffuse more effectively than sugar molecules alone, which gives it a better chance at hitting the taste buds on our tongues.”
If this discovery picks up more traction, large food companies can theoretically lower the sugar content of their proprietary recipes and avoid altering taste. It would be a significant step forward on the path to making healthier processed foods. It might also have revolutionary changes in terms of diseases like diabetes and obesity. For more candy news, make sure to keep up with our blog!