Enhancing the Taste of Noncaloric Sweeteners with Mineral Salts

Researchers propose a solution to improve the flavor of noncaloric sweeteners by adding blends of nutritionally important mineral salts. Noncaloric replacements for sugar often fall short in terms of taste, leaving consumers unsatisfied due to lingering sweet aftertastes and a lack of sugar-like mouthfeel. The study, published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry by the American Chemical Society, suggests that the addition of mineral salt blends can make zero- and low-calorie drinks taste more like their sugary counterparts, as indicated by taste-testers.

Many sugar substitutes, both natural and synthetic, have a delayed sweetness that lingers long after consumption, while also lacking the same mouthfeel as real sugar. Previous research found that sodium chloride and potassium chloride could enhance the onset of sweetness and reduce its persistence for a specific stevia compound. Building on this, the researchers wanted to explore the effects of other mineral salts on commercially available noncaloric sweeteners.

Initial tests with a trained sensory panel showed that calcium chloride, magnesium chloride, and potassium chloride individually reduced the perceived intensity of a stevia compound’s sweetness after two minutes. However, high amounts of these mineral salts were needed to achieve a significant reduction, resulting in unpleasant saltiness or bitterness. To address this, the researchers combined the three salts and observed synergistic effects. Lower amounts of each salt produced the same desired effect—a blend of potassium, magnesium, and calcium salts reduced the lingering sweetness by up to 79% and greatly improved the mouthfeel of 10 noncaloric alternatives.

Although some panelists still detected a slight saltiness in certain sugar substitute formulations with the all-chloride mineral salt blends, the researchers tested reduced-chloride versions in commercial zero-calorie colas. This resolved the faint salty off-taste issue and significantly improved the flavor of the beverages. The researchers also added the salt blends to a reduced-calorie orange juice and a citrus-flavored soft drink containing high fructose corn syrup, resulting in a more sugar-like taste for both beverages. The study presents a promising solution for replicating the taste of real sugar in low- and zero-calorie drinks.


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