Cocktail of lime, stevia and β-glucans could open up opportunities for fruit beverages

By Rachel Arthur contact

- Last updated on GMT

Functional beverages are in demand: so how could fruit beverages tap into the trend? Pic: iStock
Functional beverages are in demand: so how could fruit beverages tap into the trend? Pic: iStock

Related tags: Stevia, Nutrition

A trio of lime, stevia and β-glucans could open up opportunities for fruit based beverages that have an increased nutritional value yet are low in sugar, say Danish researchers. 

The scientists from Aarhus University say stevia can provide the required sweetness, while lime masks the aftertaste of the zero-calorie, natural sweetener.  

Meanwhile, dietary fiber is the focus of increased attention, and the fiber β-glucan has been related to various health benefits

Sugar-reduced drinks must taste similar to their counterparts

Consumers want reduced calorie products, while there is also increased interest in functional beverages.

“The beverage industry has long revolved around sugar reduction as a response to heightened calorie and health awareness,” ​wrote the researchers in the study. “More recently dietary fiber has also garnered attention to meet the consumer's demands for low calorie and yet more satiating food and beverages.

“From a health perspective the sweetener stevia rebaudiana and the fiber β-glucan seem like very good solutions, as stevia is the only natural non-nutritive sweetener and β-glucans have been related to various health benefits besides increasing satiety.”

However, both stevia and β-glucans have distinct perceptual effects on the sensory characteristics of a product, with stevia associated with a bitter aftertaste, licorice flavor and ‘musty, cardboard-like off-flavors.’ β-glucans can be associated with changes in taste and odors.

“Fruit based functional low-calorie beverages, sweetened with stevia and [with] added β-glucans, seem like a very good solution from a nutritional point of view. However, it is important that sugar reduced foods have as few differences as possible from conventional foods,” ​observe the researchers.

Lime juice in the limelight

Researchers found that the lime juice masked the problematic adverse tastes. They investigated the sensory characteristics of fruit based beverages sweetened with stevia and with added β-glucans and lime, and how consumers responded to the resulting beverage.

“Adding lime flavor might be the future way to make products healthier and appealing, as the addition of a flavor can mask the generally negative sensory effects of stevia”

“The objective sensory and the subjective consumer science approach to the effects of varying concentrations of added β-glucans and lime flavor on stevia sweetened fruit based beverages showed that the addition of lime flavor was able to mask the effect of the aftertaste caused by stevia,” ​said the researchers.

The addition of β-glucans initially resulted in negative consumer responses in terms of liking, wanting and sensory satisfaction due to the less appealing attributes noted by participants, such as ‘unfresh odor’ and ‘metallic odour.’

“However, by adding lime flavor some of these side effects of the increasing fiber concentration could be counteracted, to such an extent, that the beverages were evaluated just as favourably in terms of liking, wanting and sensory satisfying as the beverages not containing fibers.

“Adding a flavor (in this case lime flavor) might be the future solution for how to make products healthier and appealing, as the addition of a flavor can mask the generally negative sensory effects of replacing sugar with stevia.”

Source: Food Research International, 2016; 82: 14. DOI:10.1016/j.foodres.2016.01.010

Title: “Changes in sensory characteristics and their relation with consumers' liking, wanting and sensory satisfaction: Using dietary fibre and lime flavour in Stevia rebaudiana sweetened fruit beverages

Authors:L.H. Mielby, B.V. Andersen, S. Jensen, H. Kildegaard, A. Kuznetsova, N. Eggers, P.B. Brockhoff, D.V. Byrne.

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