Tagatose is a rare sugar that has been garnering attention in recent years due to its potential health benefits and versatility as a low-calorie sugar alternative. It is a monosaccharide, meaning it is a single sugar molecule, with a chemical structure similar to that of fructose.
While it is found naturally in small amounts in some dairy products and fruits, tagatose is considered a rare sugar because it is not commonly found in the human diet. It is produced through a process of enzymatic conversion of lactose (a sugar found in milk) into tagatose. One producer, Bonumose, Inc., uses a proprietary enzymatic process to convert inexpensive and abundant agricultural raw materials, such as corn, into tagatose.
So, what advantages does tagatose have over traditional sugar and other sweeteners? And which companies produce the rare ingredient? Here’s what you need to know about this promising sugar alternative.
Tagatose has several advantages over other sweeteners. First, it’s low in calories and has a low glycemic index (GI). The GI measures how quickly a carbohydrate-containing food raises blood sugar levels, with high glycemic foods causing rapid spikes in blood sugar levels that can lead to insulin resistance and other health problems.
Tagatose has a GI of only three, making it a suitable sweetener for those with diabetes or other blood sugar-related conditions. For comparison, table sugar has a GI of 65, honey’s GI is between 55 and 83 (depending on the variety), high-fructose corn syrup has a GI of between 62 and 70 (depending on the type) and maple syrup has a GI of 54.
In addition to its low GI, tagatose has been found to have prebiotic properties, meaning it promotes the growth of beneficial gut bacteria, which can lead to improved digestion and a stronger immune system.
Several companies have begun producing tagatose as a sugar alternative. One such company is CJ CheilJedang Corp., a South Korean food ingredients manufacturer that produces tagatose under the brand name Tagatesse. CJ CheilJedang Corp. markets its tagatose-based product as a low-calorie and low-glycemic sweetener.
Another company, US-based Bonumose, Inc., produces tagatose as a low-calorie sweetener. Bonumose’s tagatose has a neutral taste profile and can be used as a one-to-one replacement for sugar in a variety of food and beverage applications. The company has also developed other rare sugars, such as allulose and allose, which have similar health benefits and applications.
In addition to its potential health benefits, tagatose also has a neutral taste profile and does not have the same aftertaste as some other low-calorie sweeteners, making it a more appealing option for those looking to reduce their sugar intake without sacrificing taste.
However, tagatose is not without its drawbacks. Because it is not widely available and is produced through a complex enzymatic process, tagatose is currently more expensive than other sweeteners. Additionally, while it is generally recognized as safe (GRAS) by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), some people may experience gastrointestinal side effects such as bloating or diarrhea when consuming large amounts of tagatose.
While it is currently produced by only a few companies and is more expensive than other sweeteners, tagatose has the potential to become more widely used in the future as consumers become more health-conscious and seek out natural and healthier sweeteners.