New Sugar Substitute: Nanoparticles Of Sand Coated In Sugar

Same taste, fewer calories
Umberto Salvagnin via Wikimedia Commons

Sugar is dietary enemy number one at the moment. The delicious compound can be found in many foods and beverages (even those that don’t taste sweet) and has been blamed for the obesity epidemic in the U.S. and beyond. Now an Israeli startup, DouxMatok, has devised a way to deliver sugar so that your tongue tastes the same amount of sweetness, but you’re ingesting only half the sugar, according to an article from Fast Company.

Here’s how it works, according to its patent: food-safe particles, nanometer-sized bits of cellulose or silica (the main component of beach sand, and also a common food additive), are individually coated with sugar. The nanoparticles are so small that the tongue can’t feel them, but they still deliver the sweetness. It tastes like a full serving of sugar, but once the body absorbs the sweet coating, the rest of the particle is not digested. And the particles are not soluble in water, so they can maintain their integrity and effectiveness even when dispersed in a sweet drink.

The result is a 25 to 55 percent decrease in the amount of sugar needed to flavor food, depending on the food in question. DouxMatok’s founders compare this method to drug delivery, because a smaller amount of an active drug is needed when it can be applied directly to the part of the body where it is most effective. The company has started testing the technology with manufacturers and has a version that can be used in cake or soda. They plan to license it soon, though there’s no word on what sort of FDA approval might be necessary for this sort of nano-food; its cost per ounce; or whether it will be available in little packets.