China Develops Low-Sugar Veggie Drink with Aid of Bacteria

Scientists at Jilin University in Changchun, China, have used an ancient trick, employing sugar-loving bacteria, to produce a low-sugar, low-calorie vegetable juice aimed at people with diabetes and pre-diabetes who have abnormally high blood sugar.

The drink is made from juiced pumpkin, balsam pear, onions, and carrots. The bacteria remove the sugars from the vegetable juice by fermenting them into lactic acid, producing a juice that retains the taste and nutrients of the vegetables but almost none of their sugar. The lactic acid makes the juice sour, but adding the sugar substitute xylitol results in a sweet-and-sour drink that the Chinese scientists believe will have great appeal to most palates. 

Using lactic acid-producing bacteria is an old Chinese method for creating such cultured foods as yogurt, cheese, and sour milk. The researchers say it is a simpler, less expensive process for removing sugar from vegetable juice than current technology provides.

Jilin University scientists Heqin Xing, PhD, and Xiuqi Liu presented their findings on the drink at the 237th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society, held in late March in Salt Lake City.

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