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Healthy Diet Plans >>  Sweeteners >>  Natural Sugar Substitutes >>  Brazzein


Brazzein is a natural sugar substitute isolated form the plant Pentadiplandra brazzeanafrom West Africa. This plant was discovered by Marcel and Anette Hladik in 1985 while studying the eating pattern of apes in Gabon. The fruit of this plant is 500x-1000x sweeter than sucrose and was traditionally consumed by apes and people of Gabon for many years. These people called the fruit ‘L'oublie’ which means ‘to forget’ in french, as it was believed that this fruit is so sweet, after eating you tend to forget everything.

Most of the sugar substitutes are carbohydrates, but unlike those brazzein is a naturally occurring protein based potential economic sweetener.
In fact brazzein is the smallest and the sweetest molecule of protein discovered so far. There is an increased demand of a non-caloric protein-based sweetener with favorable taste. The composition of brazzein consists of a single chain with 54 amino acid residues. It has much less calories compared to sugar and is also considered safe for people with diabetes. Brazzein is very special for the industrial food manufacturers as it is exceptionally heat stable with pH range of 2.5 - 8. The sweetness of brazzein can be attributed to even distribution of the bridge between its four intramolecular disulfide bonds and lack of free sulfhydryl groups.

With a long history of consumption, brazzein has excellent sweet potency, solubility and thermostability. Brazzein tastes purely sweet without any other secondary taste like bitter, sour or salty. But unlike a very high intensity sugar substitute, the sweetness of brazzein is not lingering in the mouth and readily washed off from the tongue. Brazzein when blended with other sweeteners, often improves the mouth feel and works well in citric acid and phosphate beverages. To provide a synergy that is qualitative and quantitative brazzein is often combined with aspartame and acesulfame-K. This blend helps to improve the taste, flavor, mouth feel and reduces the possible side effects of other sweeteners. Brazzein is often expressed in fruits, vegetables and yeast to increase their sweetness. Often brazzein is engineered in grains like wheat to make pre sweetened grains or flours.

At the University of Wisconsin-Madison, brazzein was first isolated as an enzyme by Professor Bengt G. Hellekant and Ding Ming. With ordinary milling, brazzein can be commercially extracted from genetically modified maize. Approximately 1-2 kg of brazzein can be derived from one ton maize. Brazzein is an economical alternative for the food industry because of its natural properties.
Submitted on January 16, 2014