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Sweet, Sweeter and Sweetest

Food scientists at Ohio State University conducted this study which was self funded. The sweetness of the sweetener depends upon the bitterness or sourness of the sweetener. // The researchers questioned about 30 college students. They were asked to rate 13 different sweeteners and sweet substances. This was done to detect how much bitter, sour and metallic tastes they perceived with each substance. Sugar was rated highest. Participants found sucralose (brand name Splenda), a sweetener derived from sugar, the most acceptable alternative to sugar.

This is because tastes such as sour and bitter were absent in the sweetener. Jeannine Delwiche, a study co-author and an assistant professor of food science and technology at Ohio State University sad that many sweeteners had unpleasant tastes. The study’s main aim is to understand how people perceive these tastes and how this can be used to create a sugar substitute that is more palatable. But one has to keep in mind that such products should have fewer calories. Sugar is the gold standard for companies that make artificial sweeteners. Delwiche and study co-author Amanda Warnock, a former graduate student in food science at Ohio State, presented their findings at the annual meeting of the American Chemical Society.

The 30 panelists were asked to rate the13 sweeteners and sweet substances. Each participant rinsed his or her mouth out thoroughly with water between tasting small samples of each compound. The researchers used this information to develop better-tasting sweeteners. The results showed that the sweeteners that the participants liked best had no, sour, bitter or metallic tastes.

The panelists liked sugar, sucralose and xylitol. Aspartame and fructose were also highly rated. The panelists liked stevia, saccharin, D-tryptophan and glycine the least as they had bitter, sour or metallic tastes. Substances such as thaumatin, cyclamate, acesulfame potassium and glucose were ranked in between the most-preferred and the least-liked compounds.


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