Natural high potency sweeteners

  • S.-H. Kim
  • G. E. Dubois


It is almost certain that since early in time the sense of sweet taste has directed both man and animals to nutritive substances. Thus taste perception probably played an essential role for survival. From an evolutionary view point, it is also likely that plants took advantage of this aspect of sweet taste to propagate their species by producing sweet fruits and other edible parts. Thus, on a volume basis, most natural sweet substances are carbohydrates from plants. However, it is also apparent that some non-carbohydrate compounds have accidentally acquired a sweet taste with no nutritive intention. Most natural sweeteners belong to this category. In modern times, at least for most people of the Western world, the attainment of adequate nourishment has not been an issue, and sweet taste perception has been sought after for the alternative purpose of giving pleasure and enjoyment. In fact, twentieth-century man is more likely than not to consume excess calories. This overnourished population has increasingly succumbed to obesity and to illnesses which are favored by excess calorie consumption (e.g. cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, etc.). Therefore non-nutritive sweeteners have assumed increasing importance in modern days. This chapter covers natural high-potency sweeteners, their synthetic modificants and high-potency sweeteners constituted of natural sub-units. Specifically excluded are carbohydrate sweeteners, which, though ubiquitous in nature, are of trivial sweetness potency. Among many reviews on sweeteners, a recent one (van der Wel et al., 1987) gives extensive coverage to carbohydrate sweeteners as well as many non-natural sweeteners. This chapter covers protein sweeteners (by S.-H. Kim) and non-protein sweeteners such as peptide sweeteners, terpenoid sweeteners, and polyketide sweeteners (by G.E. DuBois). Since interest in sweeteners is proportional to their viability for use in food products, the sweeteners discussed in this review will generally be described relative to the properties requisite for commercial viability. A detailed dissertation on these properties is provided in Section 6.6 and the reader is referred to it for clarification of any points not apparent in earlier sections. In the sweetener literature, various methods have been employed for reporting sweetness potencies. This complication is discussed in detail in Section 6.6. We have recalculated sweetness potencies in some cases, for the purpose of placing all data on the same scale. The recalculation methodology employed is described in Section 6.6.


Sweet Taste Taste Quality Acceptable Daily Intake Steviol Glycoside Flavor Profile 
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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • S.-H. Kim
  • G. E. Dubois

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