Naturally sweet: strawberry compounds could reduce need for sugar, artificial sweeteners

Wednesday, 12 March, 2014

Naturally-occurring compounds in strawberries can boost the perception of a product’s sweetness regardless of actual sugar levels, a new study has shown. The study authors suggest that using these compounds could be a way to make processed foods taste sweeter, using far less sugar and no artificial sweeteners.

University of Florida (UF) researchers grew 35 different types of strawberries and asked a panel of tasters to rate the berries’ texture and levels of sweetness, sourness and strawberry flavour, as well as their overall liking of the fruit.

Perceived sweetness intensity and intensity of strawberry flavour were the two most significant predictors of overall liking. The researchers found that the presence of certain volatile compounds improved tasters’ perceptions. Of these, six were found to improve the perceived sweetness of the fruit, independent of actual sugar content.

These six volatiles add to the growing portfolio of sugar-independent, flavour-enhancing compounds found in fruits, vegetables and herbs that researchers from the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences say are “targets of interest”.

“These findings allow for consumer influence in the breeding of more desirable fruits and vegetables,” the authors wrote. “Also, this approach garners insights into fruit metabolomics, flavour chemistry and a paradigm for enhancing liking of natural or processed products.”

The study was published in the journal PLOS ONE. To read the full study, click here.

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