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Author Topic: Why do sweeteners taste different to sugar?  (Read 5946 times)

Sami

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Why do sweeteners taste different to sugar?
« on: 12/01/2010 14:30:02 »
Sami asked the Naked Scientists:
   
I was told once that sweeteners work because they trigger the same receptors as table sugar (sucrose).

My question is, if they trigger the same receptors then why do they taste so different? And why do scientists spend so much time trying to (unsuccessfully as far as I'm concerned) come up with with the perfect cocktail of sweeteners to add to food products so that they would taste like they were made with table sugar?

What do you think?
« Last Edit: 12/01/2010 14:30:02 by _system »


 

Offline Bored chemist

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Why do sweeteners taste different to sugar?
« Reply #1 on: 12/01/2010 19:33:43 »
An artificial sweetener that tasted the same as sugar wouldn't really solve the problem. It needs to be comparably cheap.
As it happens the simple, and therefore cheap, materials they tried didn't work very well.
That means they have to Try the more complicated (and, therefore expensive) molecules.
That sort of works as long as the compounds are much sweeter than sugar. You don't need as much so it doesn't matter if they cost more per gram.
The trouble is that you are stuck with using (more or less) very sweet compounds. For example saccharin is about 300 times as sweet as sugar. These materials are very sweet because they bind very strongly to the receptor. The trouble is that because they are stuck firmly to it they don't get washed away as well so you get an "after taste" effect.

There are exceptions- xylitol tastes pretty much like sugar and is a reasonable price- but it has other problems.
 

Offline Bored chemist

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Why do sweeteners taste different to sugar?
« Reply #2 on: 13/01/2010 10:29:06 »
Do cyclamates taste of plostic?
Seriously, all the artificial sweetners taste "odd" in some way or other. One of the better ways round this is to use mixtures of them but even that isn't ideal.
 

Offline yor_on

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Why do sweeteners taste different to sugar?
« Reply #3 on: 17/01/2010 22:23:30 »
"For example saccharin is about 300 times as sweet as sugar. These materials are very sweet because they bind very strongly to the receptor. The trouble is that because they are stuck firmly to it they don't get washed away as well so you get an "after taste" effect."

Thanks for that one BC. I've been wondering why those can be so much sweeter a long time.
 

Offline CliffordK

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Why do sweeteners taste different to sugar?
« Reply #4 on: 25/07/2011 20:21:41 »
Good notes about need to make concentrated artificial sweeteners.  Imagine making 168 million tons of NutraSweet every year (annual sugar production). 

There is some evidence that artificial, zero calorie, sweeteners may actually be more fattening than just using sugar.

Sugar is only about 15 calories per teaspoon.

Apparently one of the problems with the artificial sweeteners is that they trigger a craving for food containing calories while sugar in itself can be moderately filling.
 

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Why do sweeteners taste different to sugar?
« Reply #4 on: 25/07/2011 20:21:41 »

 

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