New Sugar Substitutes in Citrus Could Change the Food and Beverage Industry

In a world first, researchers at the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences have discovered natural sweeteners in citrus fruits, a group of fruits that may be predominantly produced around the world. A breakthrough discovery could reveal new opportunities for the food industry to make foods and drinks low in sugar – and retain sweetness and taste through natural products.

Yu Wang, an associate professor of food science at UF/IFAS, led the project that revealed eight novel sweeteners or sweetness-enhancing compounds in 11 citrus cultivars.

“We were able to identify a natural source for an artificial sweetener, oxime V, which had never been identified before from a natural source,” Wang said, a faculty member at the UF/IFAS Citrus Research and Education Center in Lake Alfred, Florida. “This creates expanded opportunities for citrus growers and for selecting cultivars to breed for high yields of sweetening compounds.”

Reducing sugar without reducing the level of sweetness in foods could alter the taste of most foods. Also, as another alternative, replacing sugar with calorie-free artificial sweeteners such as saccharin, sucralose, and aspartame can leave a bitter, metallic aftertaste, a case most of us wouldn’t want. not while enjoying a sweet but fresh lemonade. While consumers opt for calorie-free and natural sweeteners, they can still play with the aftertaste; and some fruits are difficult to grow to make natural sweeteners.

Rachel J. Bradford