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Food & Beverage Perspectives

Research supports health benefits of new functional sweetener

A new sweetener, SugaVida, offers twice the sweetness of sugar, along with vitamins, minerals and health benefits supported by research.

A new sweetener, SugaVida, offers twice the sweetness of sugar, along with vitamins, minerals and health benefits supported by research.

SugaVida, derived from the sap of the Palmyra palm tree, Borassus Flabellifer, has a history of use as a sweetener and for its medicinal properties in Ayurvedic medicine, according to Kristina Locke, CEO of Conscious Food. A white paper released this month confirmed its benefits, suggesting Borassus Flabellifer offers anti-diabetogenic, anti-inflammatory, anti-hyperlipidemia and anti-arthritic effects.

“We like to call it the most nutritious sweetener on the planet," Locke said. “And we feel justified in saying that because gram for gram, compared to other sweeteners on the market … it contains more vitamins and minerals," she said, adding that the sweetener is high in vitamins B1, B2, B3, B6 and bioavailable B12.

In fact, one tablespoon of the sweetener provides 36% of FDA’s recommended daily allowance (RDA) of vitamin B12 and 240% RDA of vitamin B6.

The white paper, “Borassus Flabellifer (SugaVida™): A Study into its Traditional & Medicinal Properties," cites medical, Ayurvedic and scientific journals supporting the effects of Palmyra sugar. Other benefits presented in the white paper include positive effects related to fighting obesity, managing diabetes, sexual performance, treating colds and respiratory diseases and relieving digestive issues.

The sweetener can be used as a tabletop sweetener or as a cooking or baking ingredient, but is also being used in food and beverage manufacture.

According to Locke, several companies are working with Conscious Food to incorporate SugaVida into formulations. Some potential applications include chocolate, ice cream, bread, snacks and beverages.

To create the right taste, some manufacturers are using a blend of SugaVida and other natural sweeteners, such as xylitol and stevia, Locke said. She expects this trend of blending sweeteners with SugaVida to grow.

“[Companies are] using a bit of SugaVida, they’re using a bit of stevia and they’re using a bit of xylitol to create the perfect blend of taste, low-calorie and nutrients," she said. “And I think this is what we’re going to start to see, particularly with certain product categories, because consumers have shown that there are certain products that they will never compromise in terms of taste."

Citing applications such as chocolate, cookies, granola and ice cream, Locke said, “This is where we see our product delivering huge value because [consumers] want flavor and taste."

The product has been available in Europe for more than a year, and was launched in the United States at Natural Products Expo West, in Anaheim, California, earlier this month.

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