I'm a huge fan of probiotic products so any new development in this area of the food industry is quite interesting to me. And just last week, some food scientists in China came out with the news that they're developing a low-calorie, low-sugar vegetable juice that's custom-designed for the millions out there with diabetes and pre-diabetic conditions. The new drink is made using a cost-effective method of preparation using lactic acid-producing bacteria (LAB) to remove carbohydrates while retaining a good taste, vitamins and other nutrients.
According to the Chinese researchers, the process significantly removes sugar but retains the nutritional content of the juice's raw materials. The juice is made from pumpkin, balsam pear, onion and carrots and it's a technically cultured food like yogurt, cheeses and sausage. The LAB microbes produce a compound commonly found in sour milk products called lactic acid, which is the class of bacteria also referred to as probiotics. In the study, LAB reduced the sugar content of the vegetable juice by transforming carbohydrates into lactic acid by a routine conversion process called fermentation. In addition to the lactic acid's protection against contamination, the acidity from fermentation could enhance flavors in the beverage.
Indeed, the Lactobacillus acidophilus and L. plantarum in the vegetable juice increased its acidity by about 10-fold after 12 hours of fermentation and the scientists reported that 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. Now the obvious question: what's the taste of the low-sugar vegetable juice like?
Well, 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, with reduced calories due to lower carbohydrates. You may even see it on the market in the coming year!