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


Tagatose is a functional sweetener and has a very similar structure to fructose. Tagatose is a naturally occurring monosaccharide that can be found in some dairy products in small amounts for example milk sugar extract, but it can be commercially produced from lactose. Lactose is first hydrolyzed to glucose and galactose; galactose in turn is isomerized by calcium hydroxine under alkaline conditions to get D-tagatose. This is then purified to get a solid tagatose with the help of crystallization, chromatography and demineralization. It is 92% as sweet as sucrose and has a similar texture to sucrose but has only 38 % (provides 1.5 calories per gram) of the calories.
Tagatose has been since 2001 and the Food and Drug Administration has approved it in the year 2003 as a food addictive and GRAS ‘generally recognized as safe’. Unlike sucrose tagatose metabolism is different in the body and has minimal effects on blood sugar and insulin levels. Only 15-20 % of tagatose is absorbed in small intestine and although it has a similar structure to fructose it is incompletely absorbed in the body. Rest of the ingested tagatose is fermented by the microflora in the colon producing short chain fatty acids that are completely absorbed and metabolized.

Tagatose has great taste, low carbohydrate impact and high functionally. Because of these properties it is used in wide range of foods to improve quality of the product. Tagatose can be used in diet soft drinks, health bars, ready-to-eat cereals, frozen yoghurt or non fat ice cream, hard confectionary, soft confectionary, frosting and chewing gums. Tagatose can be used as a flavor enhancer and can also be used in combination with other high intensity sweeteners like aspartame, acesulfame-K or sucralose. This combination in fact helps to reduce bitterness in a product and even speeds up the onset of sweetness. It is ideal for the regular soft drinks as when combined with other high intensity sweeteners it creates a synergetic flavor enhancing effect. Tagatose is pH stable, heat stable and also stable in acidic medium and enhances specific flavor in various applications. It is ideal for use in frostings due to its crystallization properties. Although tagatose is heat stable, it tends to caramelize when subjected to certain temperature. Thus its use is not appropriate in the baked products where browning is undesirable.

Although safety of tagatose is studied in humans, some sensitive individuals may have mild gastrointestinal discomfort. Tagatose is tooth-friendly and does not promote plaque formation or tooth decay as unlike other sugars it is not fermented and is resistant to the micro flora in the mouth.
Submitted on January 16, 2014