We start the new year fulfilling the promise of writing a second part of the post “Without sugar, please” of possible alternatives to elaborate food without sucrose or “table sugar”, the most commonly used sweetener in the industrialized world.

So this year, my letter to Three Wise Men was:

Dear Three Wise Men:carta reyes magos

As you know, the search for alternatives to sucrose is a topic of general interest for the food industry, consumers, researchers, health professionals, etc.

So this year, in which I’ve endeavored to find the way to develop healthier foods, I would like to ask you a very special sweetener. First of all, I would like that this sweetener could be at least as sweet as sucrose, colorless, odorless, noncariogenic and, of course, low-calorie. I would like the taste could clean and could not provide foreign flavors. I would like it could be water soluble and stable in both acidic and basic conditions and over a wide range of temperatures. Thinking in industry, it would be ideal that it could be processed in a similar way to the sucrose so that they could continue to use the same equipment. I would love that I could include it in any food and does not harm the shelf life of the final product.

As you are wise and very nice, I also want to be price competitive in relation to sucrose and easy to produce, store and transport. And to conclude, please the most important thing, is that it is SAFE for the entire population, I mean that it is not toxic and is metabolized without causing any unwanted alteration.

Thank you very much and if you fulfill what I ask you I promise that next year we will have the healthiest sweet coal in the world!

Love,

María

So, I sent my letter really excited and January 6 th, my children who always get up 8 o´clock in the morning, came to wake me up screaming: “Mummyyy!, the Three Wise Men have left a letter for you!” They were right, Wise Men had bothered to reply to my letter and this is what they said:

Dear María:

We have received your letter and we are very proud that from Cartif, you continue betting on a healthier diet but we have to tell you that, although we are magicians, we do not perform miracles. We are sorry to inform you that sweetener you describe in your letter does not exist. We can only advise you to use sweeteners you have intelligently, combine them between themselves to achieve a synergistic effect and thus use less amounts. If you are looking for low-calorie sweetener than sucrose, you can use intensive sweeteners and polyols although we know than there are controversies about their effects on health, which can give strange flavors and are labeled as additives.

We have received news of the “Stevia-boom” that is living in the food industry. If you have time, we’d like you to tell that althoroscon-de-reyesugh stevia (E-960) is plant-derived this does not mean that it is natural. Remember that all or nothing is poison and that the difference is in the dose.

Keep in mind that you can also use soluble fibers such as inulin and polydextrose although they provide less sweetness, ferment the intestinal microbiota acting as prebiotics, provide few calories and are not labeled as additives.

And before saying goodbye, as we all know that it has not won the lottery, still encouraging enterprises to develop products with a more balanced nutritional profile.

Melchor, Gaspar and Baltasar

María Morillo Cabello

Chemistry Degree Ph D. Its activity focuses on the development of R&D for food companies, especially in the design and manufacture of functional foods.

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