Mars is testing the new sweetener in chocolate. Image courtesy Mars

Mars is testing the new sweetener in chocolate. Image courtesy Mars

Fiona Macrae writes for the London Independent that British scientists claim to have found a green alga that produces a sugar-like chemical to protect it from harm. When refined into a white powder, the substance can be used to sweeten products without adding calories.

The green alga Prasinococcus capsulatus. Source: micro*scope

The green alga Prasinococcus capsulatus. Source: micro*scope

GlycoMar, a Scottish marine biotechnology company run by the inventor of Viagra, found that Prasinococcus capsulatus, the tiny green alga, produces a sweetener that does not have a bitter taste or unpleasant texture. It can be grown in seawater in large plastic bags and feeds on carbon dioxide, making it environmentally friendly.

Although the as-yet unnamed sweetener is said to feel like sugar in the mouth, tests suggest that it passes through the body without being digested. It is being developed in conjunction with confectionery giant Mars.

GlycoMar is working on ways to produce it on an industrial scale to compete with sugar on price. The Company already uses seaweed and other marine organisms to make medicines. Mars is testing the new sweetener in chocolate.

“Assuming the taste is the same, low-calorie chocolate would be welcomed by consumers,” said GlycoMar chairperson Professor Mike Wyllie, one of the team that developed Viagra.

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