The effects of sweeteners and sweetness enhancers on obesity and diabetes: a review
Sweet taste, one of the five basic taste qualities, is not only important for evaluation of food quality, but also guides the dietary food choices of animals. Sweet taste involves a variety of chemical compounds and structures, including natural sugars, sugar alcohols, natural and artificial sweeteners, and sweet-tasting proteins. The preference for sweetness has induced the over-consumption of sugar, contributing to certain prevailing health problems, such as obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Non-nutritive sweeteners, including natural and synthetic sweeteners, and sweet-tasting proteins have been added to foods to reduce the caloric intake from sugar, but many of these sugar substitutes induce an off-taste or after taste that negatively impacts any pleasure derived from the sweet taste. Sweet taste is detected by sweet taste receptor, that also play an important role in the metabolic regulation of the body, such as glucose homeostasis and incretin hormone secretion. In this review, the role of sweet tastants and the sweet taste receptors involved in sweetness perception, and their effect on obesity and diabetes are summarized. Sweet taste enhancement, as a new way to solve the over-consumption of sugar, is discussed in this contribution. Sweet taste enhancers can bind with sweet tastans to potentiate the sweetness of food without producing any taste by itself. Various type of sweet taste enhancers, including synthetic compounds, food-processed substances and aroma compounds, are summarized. Notably, few natural, non-volatile compounds have been identified as sweetness enhancers.
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