Sweeter And Healthier Strawberries

Food science is making processed foods tastier with essence of strawberry.
Marsha Lewis, Contributing Producer

(Inside Science TV) -- As any parent will tell you, fresh fruits and vegetables are good for you. 

Now, researchers at the University of Florida in Gainesville are studying ways to help more people love the taste of healthy foods.

"In our society, we have major problems with the food sources and the actual quality of food," said Thomas Colquhoun, an environmental horticulturist at the University of Florida.

The researchers studied 35 different varieties of strawberries. They found six natural volatile compounds, which are chemicals that evaporate easily so humans can smell them. These chemicals are perceived by the senses as sweet but they contain no sugar.

"It is a chemical produced by the fruit that diffuses through the air and then reaches your nose to contribute to smell or flavor," said Michael Schwieterman, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Florida.

Scientists believe they can add the compounds to processed foods to trick consumers into thinking the food is sweeter without adding sugar or artificial sweeteners.

"It's just reformulating their recipes slightly so that you can achieve the same sweetness perception by the consumer with less sugar," said Schwieterman.

The sweet compounds could also be grown into healthy foods -- like fruits and veggies -- to enhance their flavor and make them a tastier option.

"You'd be eating less sugar, but still tasting it just as sweet," said Colquhoun.

The scientists say they are about four to five years away from adding these compounds to processed foods that are on the market.

Author Bio & Story Archive

Marsha Lewis is a freelance producer based in California.  She has won 11 National Telly Awards and nine Regional Emmy Awards for her work in local and national syndicated news.

I’ve dedicated my time to reporting and producing stories focused on medical, science and technology. I created a nationally award winning series dedicated to promoting women and their great accomplishments.  Now I’ve taken that expertise outside the traditional TV news format and broadened the viewership to people around the world.