The food and beverage market stores a groundbreaking, low calorie sugar that serves as an all-natural substitute to artificial sweeteners and table sugar. Tagatose, a sugar that presents itself in nature in small amounts, started its uncommon expedition towards the commercial market about three decades ago. Its journey began when Dr. Gilbert V. Levin designed a life detection experiment to join the Mars Viking 1 and Viking 2 landers of NASA. The test used nutrients laced with radiation to discover the existence of microbial life on the samples of Martian soil.

As soon as the Viking 1 lander landed in Mars to collect information, the experiment gathered Martial soil and placed it in a container with the nutrients. If it discovered that there were microbes, it would consume the nutrients and discharge radioactive carbon dioxide, which the Geiger counter could detect.

When Levin was choosing nutrients for the test, he primarily assessed the common structure of glucose, since the entire living organism on Earth consumes this kind of sugar. Eventually, the test was not largely acknowledged as evidence of life on Mars because oxidants in the soil tricked it.

Nevertheless, Levin continued his exploration on sugar and established a company in Maryland named Spherix. He discovered that the human stomach is unable to digest L-glucose, which can act as a low-calorie sweetener. He ultimately found out that it is too expensive for commercial use. He then went on to explore other sugars until he came upon tagatose.

Then and there, tagatose rapidly demonstrated its benefits as a substitute for regular sugar. Because it is 92 percent as sweet as the run of the mill table sugar, residents can use it as a one to one sugar substitute. This provides tagatose the advantage of having similar quantities as table sugar, which makes it possible for people to use it in recipes where volume of sugar is a crucial ingredient, like baked goods. Moreover, tagatose also browns the same as regular sugar when baking and it doesn’t have an aftertaste unlike high-intensity sweeteners. Besides being low in calories, it doesn’t encourage tooth decay or bring about cavities, and this sweetener is even safe for diabetics.

By 1996, Spherix completely approved the use of tagatose in beverages and food to Arla Foods Ingredients. After five years, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) considered it “Generally Recognized As Safe,” which is a status needed for sales in the country. This action allowed Arla to proceed with commercialization, while they started instituting plants to create the sugar.

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