New Sugar Substitute Made from Food Waste

Kristin Toussaint wrote . . . . . . . . .

As more and more companies look to curb food waste, fruit scraps and ugly pieces of produce that once went into the compost bin or trash can are finding second lives. Juice pulp has been turned into popsicles, wonky veggies into soups, and now Dutch company Fooditive is turning leftovers from apples and pears, along with the pieces of fruit that are unfit for supermarkets, into a chemical-free sweetener.

Current sugar substitutes are considered a growing environmental hazard; artificial sweeteners such as sucralose and aspartame, found in Splenda and Equal, aren’t absorbed by our bodies nor are completely removed by wastewater treatment plants, meaning these sweeteners end up in rivers and oceans, potentially harming aquatic plant and animal life.

Regular cane sugar is the cause of global health problems, and its cultivation is taking an environmental toll, too, requiring intense water use and causing soil erosion and pollution from processing sugarcane. Natural sweeteners like honey have their own complications. Stevia, the natural sweetener derived from the Stevia rebaudiana plant, is known to have a bitter aftertaste, so beverage companies that use stevia often mix it with other artificial sweeteners.

Fooditive, founded by food scientist Moayad Abushokhedim, aims to be a natural alternative to those other sweetener options in a way that’s healthy for the planet and our own bodies. Fooditive takes third-grade apples and pears—those ones with brown spots or off colors, which wouldn’t be sold in a supermarket—from local Dutch farmers, along with some fruit scraps, and extracts the natural fructose through a fermentation process. The final result is a calorie-free sweetener without many of the concerns of both sugar and other sugar substitutes.

Beyond the sweetener, Fooditive also makes all-natural preserving agents for things like sauces, soups, and bakery items out of carrot waste, thickening agents from banana skins, and emulsifiers from potato extracts. The company is collaborating with Rotterdam Circulair, a Netherlands company focused on reusing and recycling waste, with the goal of establishing a circular economy in the city of Rotterdam by 2030.

“Our products really provide the food and beverage producers with the ability to have a clean label, a green label, and show people what’s in their food,” says Geiles. Right now, the company is working in the business-to-business market, partnering with a third-party food industry company called Bodec to get its sustainable sweetener into Dutch products. Geiles says it’s already being used by a Dutch beverage company, though he couldn’t name specific brands.

Fooditive is also registered in Sweden, and next Geiles says the company hopes to expand to other Nordic countries, Jordan (where founder Abushokhedim is from), and the United Kingdom. U.S. food regulations make the move stateside a bit difficult, but Geiles says they’re hoping to bring their sustainable products here as well.

Source: Fast Company

Saccharin Derivatives May Kill Cancer Cells

Saccharin received a bad rap after studies in the 1970s linked consumption of large amounts of the artificial sweetener to bladder cancer in laboratory rats. Later, research revealed that these findings were not relevant to people. And in a complete turnabout, recent studies indicate that saccharin can actually kill human cancer cells. Now, researchers reporting in ACS’ Journal of Medicinal Chemistry have made artificial sweetener derivatives that show improved activity against two tumor-associated enzymes.

Saccharin, the oldest artificial sweetener, is 450 times sweeter than sugar. Recently, scientists showed that the substance binds to and inhibits an enzyme called carbonic anhydrase (CA) IX, which helps cancer cells survive in the acidic, oxygen-poor microenvironments of many tumors. In contrast, healthy cells make different –– but very similar –– versions of this enzyme called CA I and II. Saccharine and another artificial sweetener called acesulfame K can selectively bind to CA IX over CA I and II, making them possible anti-cancer drugs with minimal side effects. Alessio Nocentini, Claudiu Supuran and colleagues wondered whether they could make versions of the artificial sweeteners that show even more potent and selective inhibition of CA IX and another tumor-associated enzyme, CA XII.

The team designed and synthesized a series of 20 compounds that combined the structures of saccharin and acesulfame K and also added various chemical groups at specific locations. Some of these compounds showed greater potency and selectivity toward CA IX and XII than the original sweeteners. In addition, some killed lung, prostate or colon cancer cells grown in the lab but were not harmful to normal cells. These findings indicate that the widely used artificial sweeteners could be promising leads for the development of new anticancer drugs, the researchers say.

Source: American Chemical Society


Today’s Comic

What’s the Difference Between Cane Sugar and Beet Sugar?

Melissa Petruzzello wrote . . . . . . . . .

Various types of sugar. Organic compound. Glucose. Refined sugar, raw sugar, brown sugar, sugar cubes spoon wood

White table sugar comes from either sugarcane or sugar beets and is usually sold without its plant source clearly identified. This is because—chemically speaking—the two products are identical. Refined table sugar is pure, crystallized sucrose, much in the same way that pure salt is simply sodium chloride. Sucrose is found naturally in honey, dates, and sugar maple sap, but it is most concentrated in sugarcane and sugar beets. The refining process renders the original plant irrelevant as the sucrose is completely extracted from the plant that produced it.

However, distinguishing between cane and beet sugar is not completely a marketing ploy and is fairly common on sugars sold in health food stores. In order to make sugarcane crystals pure white, the sugar is usually processed with bone char; beet sugar does not require this step. Although the final sugarcane product does not have bone in it, this distinction is important to many vegans and other vegetarians who seek to minimize animal suffering.

Additionally, many bakers and pastry chefs claim there is a difference between brown sugars made from sugarcane and those of sugar beets. The molasses that colors brown sugar comes from sugarcane processing and is not a high-grade product of sugar beets. Thus, brown sugar made from sugar beets has sugarcane molasses added. Although the industry maintains that they are identical products, many chefs use only brown sugar made from sugarcane, maintaining that brown beet sugar negatively affects their products. Although some assert that the difference lies in the trace minerals from the two plants, it is more likely that there is a moisture difference that may affect baked goods and other desserts.

Source: Britannica

Study Examines the Relationship between Sugars and Heart Health

The impact of sugars on heart health depends on the dose and type of sugar consumed, suggests a new study led by researchers at St. Michael’s Hospital.

The team, led by Dr. John Sievenpiper, a staff physician in the Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism and a scientist at the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, examined the relationship between total and added sugars that contain fructose on cardiovascular disease incidence and mortality.

Fructose is a naturally occurring sugar in many fruits and vegetables and makes up about half of the sugars in added sucrose and high-fructose corn syrup.

“We tend to think that sugars irrespective of the source are all bad, but this isn’t always the case,” said Dr. Sievenpiper. “Sugars behave differently depending on the type, dose and food source. Different sugars in varying amounts from different sources can have different effects on our health.”

Dr. Sievenpiper and his team wanted to find out whether there were harmful associations of fructose-containing sugars with heart health.

To do this, the team conducted a review of previous studies investigating the association between reported intakes of fructose-containing sugars derived from all reported sources and heart disease incidence and mortality.

The team found that different types of sugars showed different associations with cardiovascular disease. Higher intake of total sugars, fructose or added sugars was associated with increased death from cardiovascular disease, whereas higher intake of sucrose was associated with decreased death from cardiovascular disease.

The sugars that were associated with harm also showed thresholds for harm below which increased death from cardiovascular disease was not observed, ranging from 58 grams for fructose to 133 grams for total sugars.

Given the limitation that their data is largely observational in nature, Dr. Sievenpiper stressed that the certainty of their evidence is generally low and there is still a long way to go before fully understanding the relationship between sugars and heart health.

Next, the team plans to look at whether the differences seen by the type and dose of sugars can be explained by their food sources.

“We know that there are healthy and less healthy sources of sugar out there, but we want to know if these differences in sugars are driving the differences we’re seeing in the association with cardiovascular disease,” said Dr. Sievenpiper. “In other words, does it matter whether sugar comes from a healthier source such as fruit, yogurt, or a high-fibre, whole grain cereal versus a sugar-sweetened beverage.”

Source: EurekAlert!


Today’s Comic

Supplements Touting Brain Benefits May Contain Unauthorized Ingredient

Lisa Rapaport wrote . . . . . . . . .

Many supplements marketed for brain health may contain piracetam, an ingredient not proven effective for preventing or easing dementia or cognitive impairment and not approved for sale in the U.S., researchers say.

In an analysis of five products purchased online, researchers found that four contained piracetam, sometimes in dangerously high amounts. The fifth, which was labeled and sold as piracetam, contained no detectable amount of the drug.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned last February that so-called cognitive enhancement supplements may be ineffective, unsafe and could prevent patients from getting the correct diagnosis and treatment.

“Any products making unproven drug claims could mislead consumers to believe that such therapies exist and keep them from accessing therapies that are known to help support the symptoms of the disease, or worse as some fraudulent treatments can cause serious or even fatal injuries,” then-FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb said in a statement.

While the FDA didn’t single out piracetam, it’s one of the more common and worrisome ingredients in unapproved cognitive enhancement supplements, researchers note in JAMA Internal Medicine.

For the study, Dr. Pieter Cohen of Somerville Hospital Primary Care in Massachusetts and colleagues searched online for supplements with piracetam in the description or ingredient list, then ordered samples to test in a lab and see how much of the ingredient they contained.

They tested a total of 10 samples from four manufacturers. The amount of piracetam contained in the recommended servings ranged from 831 mg to 1,542 mg. In the four products that contained the ingredient, the amount of piracetam ranged from 85% to 188% of the amount claimed on the label.

Following the manufacturers’ recommendations, consumers could be exposed to quantities ranging from 831 mg to 11,283 mg of piracetam per day, depending on the brand consumed, the researchers note.

In Europe, where piracetam is prescribed for disorders including dementia and cognitive impairment, tablets are typically 800 mg or 1,200 mg and daily dosing tends to be 2,400 mg to 4,800 mg, the study team notes.

At doses lower than researchers found in some supplements available for purchase in the U.S., side effects of piracetam include anxiety, insomnia, agitation, depression, drowsiness and weight gain, the authors write.

Side effects may be worse at higher doses, although the precise risks are unknown, they point out.

Beyond the small number of samples tested, other limitations of the study include the possibility that amounts of piracetam in the supplements might vary over time, the study authors note.

Even so, consumers should steer clear of piracetam supplements, given the lack of evidence that it helps cognition and the potential harmful side effects, the researchers conclude.

“Clinicians should advise patients that supplements marketed as cognitive enhancers may contain prohibited drugs at supratherapeutic doses,” the study authors warn.

Source: Reuters