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Tagatose Sweetener

September 17, 2013 Written by JP    [Font too small?]

Tagatose is a sweetener currently making its way onto the U.S. market. And, I want you to know more about it before it starts showing up in your local health food stores and markets. Personally, I’m interested in tagatose because it’s all natural, low glycemic and may even impart some significant health benefits. In addition, it’s a prebiotic, meaning that it selectively promotes the growth of healthy gut bacteria. If this sounds like something you’d be interested in as well, look for products with names like PreSweet and Tagatesse.

The broad strokes about tagatose inform that it is 92% as sweet as sucrose or table sugar and is lower in calories – 1.5 calories/gram vs. 4 calories/gram respectively. It begins as a by-product of whey, but the resulting white powder is 100% lactose-free. Another interesting factoid is that it’s been approved for use as a sweetener for over a decade. However, it hasn’t been commercially viable until just recently. In 2012, a change in marketing strategy allowed for a new manufacturer to open a large tagatose production facility located just outside of Rome, Italy. Thus far, the preliminary sales have been encouraging. But, from my perspective, the real question is: Will the increased popularity of tagatose benefit those using it?

A review of the scientific literature reveals several key findings with respect to the health effects of tagatose: 1) It appears to be safe for type 2 diabetics and tends to improve long and short term blood sugar levels and HDL (“good”) cholesterol while decreasing body weight. 2) Tagatose reduces post-meal insulin production in those without diabetes. 3) The addition of dietary tagatose slows gastric emptying, thereby increasing satiety and, possibly, aiding with weight management. The potential downsides of tagatose are primarily gastrointestinal (GI) discomfort: diarrhea, gas and nausea. The GI issues are brought about because tagatose is only minimally digestible. It’s estimated that roughly 15 – 20% of tagatose is absorbed and the bulk is fermented in the small colon. That said, the GI side effects are dose dependent, which discourages overconsumption, and appear to be less prominent than what is typically found with other alternative sweeteners such as sugar alcohols. Finally, while tagatose tastes like conventional sugar, it has a tendency to brown more easily. So, some adjustments in baking temperature and time may be in order.

To learn more about the studies referenced in today’s column, please click on the following links:

Study 1 – Food Navigator: Could It Be Second Time Lucky for Low-Cal Sweetener (link)

Study 2 – Dietary Supplementation w/ D-Tagatose in Subjects w/ Type 2 Diabetes (link)

Study 3 – D-Tagatose, A Novel Hexose: Acute Effects on Carbohydrate Tolerance(link)

Study 4 – Beneficial Effect of Tagatose Consumption on Postprandial … (link)

Study 5 – Effects of Different Sweet Preloads on Incretin Hormone Secretion … (link)

Study 6 – Gastric Emptying of Hexose Sugars: Role of Osmolality, Molecular (link)

Study 7 – The Acute Effect of D-Tagatose on Food Intake in Human Subjects (link)

Study 8 – Effect of Oral D-Tagatose on Liver Volume & Hepatic Glycogen (link)

Study 9 – Comparative Gastrointestinal Tolerance of Sucrose, Lactitol (link)

Study 10 – Human Gastrointestinal Tolerance to D-Tagatose (link)

Tagatose May Promote Hunger Satisfaction Via Slower Gastric Emptying

Source: Neurogastroenterol Motil. 2010 Nov;22(11):1183-90, e314. (link)

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Posted in Diabetes, Diet and Weight Loss, Nutrition

4 Comments & Updates to “Tagatose Sweetener”

  1. kristi Says:

    Sounds interesting – thanks for the heads up. I have not seen this yet. Also, just wanted to let you know that I did some health coaching and your articles were perfect to use as handouts – great information in a succinct format that gives links to original studies. Love you blog!

  2. JP Says:

    Many thanks, Kristi! 🙂

    Be well!


  3. Cathi Says:

    Sounds interesting, I like that fact that D-Tagatose browns. My only concern is that it might enlarge the liver. I would like to see more testing on that. One would hate to be taking care of one problem only to end up with other health issues. So, it would be good to see how much d-Tagatose could be used before effecting ones liver in a negative way.

  4. JP Says:

    Update: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4287278/

    J Endocrinol Diabetes Obes. 2014 Oct;2(4):1057.

    Effects of Three Low-Doses of D-Tagatose on Glycemic Control Over Six Months in Subjects with Mild Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus Under Control with Diet and Exercise.

    The primary objective of this study was to evaluate the safety and the effect of D-tagatose on the glycemic control of subjects with type 2 diabetes as determined by HbA1c levels at the end of 6 months of therapy using the subject’s own baseline HbA1c level as a comparator. The determination of the minimal dose required to cause a statistically significant reduction in HbA1c was of particular interest. Eight weeks after screening, the qualifying subjects were randomized to receive one of three doses of D-tagatose: 2.5 g TID, 5.0 g TID or 7.5 g TID. Blood levels of HbA1c, fasting blood glucose concentrations, plasma lipids, changes in body weight, changes in body mass index, and change in insulin levels were checked at each study visit and at the end of the study. Treatment success, as measured by the reduction of HbA1c, was greatest for the 7.5 g D-tagatose dose group, although the difference between the treatments was not statistically significant. For fasting glucose, only the 7.5 g dosage group exhibited reductions from baseline at the 3- and 6-month time points. Mean body weights reduced in a dose-response fashion, with the 5.0 g and the 7.5 g D-tagatose doses providing the greatest reductions. D-tagatose at dosages of 2.5 g, 5.0 g, and 7.5 g TID for six months were well tolerated by this subject population. D-tagatose at 5.0 g TID was the minimal dose required to reduce HbA1c. D-tagatose at 7.5 g TID provided the greatest effect in most measured efficacy parameters.

    Be well!


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