DIABETIC SWEETENER OBTAINED FROM TROPICAL TREE
Since Elsa was diagnosed with type II diabetes, she made sure to be informed about those food products that wouldn't aggravate her health. Her doctor reported that one of the first products to be avoid is sugar, but Elsa has a habit of sweeten her food and drinks.
Elsa learned about some natural low calorie sweeteners that could be used, including erythritol, a sweetener found in fruits and vegetables, which is one of the options to sweeten foods and drinks for patients with diabetes. However, extraction is usually made from products with high nutritional and commercial value (such as grapes), for that reason, its price is higher than other sweeteners.
Students of the Technological Institute of Monterrey (ITESM) in México, identified the problem and developed a process for producing erythritol from sapodilla, a tropical tree from which chewing gum was initially extracted and that has less commercial demand than other fruits and vegetables. Pedro Magaña Mejia and Alexis Lara Azar from Biotechnology Engineering and Moisés Medina Espinoza and Karen López Solís from Industrial and Systems Engineering, managed to create this "zero calorie" sweetener, suitable for people with diabetes, hypertension and obesity, like Elsa.
According to the students, during the production of erythritol are no salts, chemicals or preservatives were used; erythritol is traditionally produced by fermentation of glucose with yeast. This product does not detonate dental caries, and does not cause gastric side effects as pronounced as with other other sweeteners.
However, when consumed in excess, erythritol may cause some inconvenient laxative reaction. Therefore, it is important to check with the doctor or specialist before integrating it to a diet.
Erythritol obtained by students at the Technological Institute of Monterrey, is a totally natural product. This factor represents an advantage over other eritritoles, since it has been found that the product contains only 60 to 70 percent of the sweetness of sugar cane, and some companies add other ingredients like trans fats to enhance taste and make it sweeter.
The proposed sweetener produced from the sapodilla provides 0.2 calories per gram and with a glycemic index of zero, so it can be used by people with diabetes mellitus. The researchers note that the food problem is the calorie content, for that reason they seek to open a market in synergy with food manufacturers who require sweeteners, mainly in the soft drink industry.