sugar cubes

D-tagatose or tagatose is a rare sugar found in small quantities in some dairy products and fruits. It is nearly as sweet as sucrose but has only 38% of the calories. In addition, the natural sweetener has a low glycemic index and acts as a prebiotic to nourish beneficial gut bacteria. While tagatose has many advantages for use as a sweetener in formulated food and drink products, its cost of production has hindered its application. But that may change thanks to research from Tufts University.

In a study published in Nature Communications, researchers Josef R. Bober and Nikhil U. Nair in the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering at Tufts University describe an enzymatic bioprocess to isomerize tagatose from galactose at conversion rates up to 85%. These high rates were achieved by encapsulating L-arabinose isomerase enzyme in gram-positive Lactobacillus plantarum that was chemically permeabilized, enabling reactions at high rates, high conversions, and elevated temperatures.

According to an article from Tufts, these encapsulated enzymes with permeable cell walls are mini bioreactors that allow galactose to enter the cells and convert it to tagatose, which is then released. To achieve the 85% conversion rate, the researchers had to overcome several thermodynamic, kinetic, and stability hurdles.

“You can’t beat thermodynamics. But while that’s true, you can circumvent its limitations by engineering solutions,” said Nair, who is corresponding author of the study, in the article. “This is like the fact that water will not naturally flow from lower elevation to higher elevation because thermodynamics won’t allow it. However, you can beat the system by, for example, using a siphon, which pulls the water up first before letting it out the other end.”

To optimize the reactions and achieve high conversion rates, Nair and Bober used the “siphons” of enzyme encapsulation for stability, higher temperatures to run the reactions, and feeding the bioreactors more efficiently through permeable cell membranes.

More from IFTNEXT right arrow

A new approach to reducing salt while maintaining taste

The dangers of a high-sodium diet have been well documented, but a new technology devised by scientists from Washington State University could help reduce sodium in processed foods while retaining taste and texture.

Sucralose–carbohydrate combo may affect insulin sensitivity

A study found that people who drank beverages that contained the low-calorie sweetener sucralose did experience metabolic problems and issues with neural responses but only when the beverage was formulated with both sucralose and a tasteless sugar (maltodextrin).

Manipulating photosynthesis for food security

British scientists have gained new insights into the compound in plants that plays a vital role in the natural process through which plants grow.

New rapid tests for botulinum toxin

In the food industry, botulinum toxin is associated with a severe form of food poisoning caused by improperly preserved food. Researchers have developed a technology that addresses the role of botulinum toxin in both food and cosmetic applications.

Latest News right arrow

COVID-19’s impact on lifestyles and eating behaviors in Asia

According to Innova Market Insights’ COVID-19 Consumer Survey (conducted in March 2020), in China, India, and Indonesia, personal concerns center on health, personal income, and the availability of healthcare and products to buy.

A low-carb diet may lower the risk of blinding eye disease

Following a long-term diet that’s low in carbohydrates and high in fat and protein from vegetables may reduce the risk of the most common subtype of glaucoma, according to a study published in Eye-Nature.

FDA announces qualified health claim for cranberry products and urinary tract infections

The U.S. FDA has announced in a letter of enforcement discretion that it does not intend to object to the use of certain qualified health claims regarding consuming certain cranberry products and a reduced risk of recurrent urinary tract infection in healthy women.

Call to action for stronger, better-funded federal nutrition research

According to a group of research, policy, and government experts, the United States needs to strengthen and increase funding for federal nutrition research and improve cross-governmental coordination in order to accelerate discoveries, grow the economy, and—most importantly—improve public health, food/nutrition security, and population resilience.

U.S. Dietary Guidelines Committee recommends lowering added sugar consumption

The 2020 DGAC revisited the topic of added sugars and concluded that a more appropriate target to help mitigate cardiovascular disease and obesity is to lower the number to 6% of energy from added sugars for the 2020–2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.