In recent decades, not only sugar consumption has increased steadily, but also the number of chronic diseases caused by excessive sugar consumption has risen sharply worldwide. Diseases such as caries, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease (strokes and heart attacks), type 2 diabetes, overweight and obesity in children and adults are caused or favored by long-term sugar consumption. In order to counteract the increasing number of food related health problems, the German Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Food (BMEL) has set itself the goal of reducing the sugar content in processed foods and beverages in order to reduce the direct and indirect costs for the economy and society as a whole. Sweet proteins, originating from tropical and African plants, can be used to develop healthier alternatives to sugar and counteracting food related diseases.
As part of the BMEL's innovation funding programme, the Fraunhofer IME, together with the metaX Institute for Dietetics and the company candidum, is exploring innovative protein-based sweeteners in the "Novel Sweets" project. These are a healthier alternative to sugar and sugar substitutes and can be used in processed foods. Computer-assisted optimization of the protein sequences and in silico modelling will be used to improve the limited chemical and process-related properties. These include increased temperature stability, improved pH stability and improved sensory properties without undesirable aftertaste or flavor. The improved product candidates will be finally produced recombinantly by microbial fermentation and are intended to replace sugar primarily in beverages and other processed food