March 27, 2009

Low-sugar vegetable juice being developed

Scientists in China are developing a low-calorie, low-sugar vegetable juice for people with diabetes and pre-diabetic conditions.

Heqin Xing and Xiuqi Liu of Jilin University in Changchun, China, described a cost-effective method of preparing a special type of vegetable drink using lactic acid-producing bacteria to remove carbohydrates while retaining good taste, vitamins and other nutrients.

To develop the juice -- made from pumpkin, balsam pear, onion and carrots -- Xing and Liu turned to an old technique used in food production commonly found in sour milk products called lactic acid.

Xing's and Liu's use of Lactobacillus acidophilus and L. plantarum in the vegetable juice increased its acidity by about 10-fold after 12 hours of fermentation.

The viable cell counts of L. plantarum in the fermented mixed vegetable juice still remained at up to 5 billion colony forming units per teaspoon after four weeks of cold storage, Xing said.

Thanks to the addition of sugar, and a diabetic-friendly sugar substitute called xylitol, Xing said that the juice has a good mix of sweet and sour.

The finding was presented at the 237th national meeting of the American Chemical Society in Salt Lake City.