Scientists say eight new sweeteners found in citrus fruits can be used to reduce sugar in foods and soft drinks, while claiming they can reduce the risk of diabetes.

Scientists at the University of Florida said they found the compounds — seven of which are completely new — after running tests on grapefruit, tangerine and sweet orange. Another sweetener discovered, used in Japan, was previously known only as the synthetic version.

Dr Yu Wang, the food scientist who led the research, said the sweeteners offered an “expanded opportunity” to lower sugar levels in the drinks.

Sweeteners are often touted as a way to reduce sugars and calories in products while retaining the sweet flavor, which can aid weight loss. But some scientists warn that sweeteners — such as aspartame and stevia in diet sodas — may actually increase the risk of weight gain, diabetes and even a heart attack.

In the study’s statement, published this week in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, the experts said their discovery offered a wealth of new sweeteners.

The study said, “Americans’ love of sugar can be a deadly pull factor that sometimes leads to major health problems, including obesity and type 2 diabetes. This discovery opens opportunities for the food industry to produce foods and drinks with lower sugar content and fewer calories while preserving Sweetness and taste using natural products.

In the study, scientists studied fruits from eleven different strains of citrus plants. Each is selectively curated for a specific flavor, and for specific qualities — such as resilience to cold resistance.

Tests revealed eight sweeteners within plants, with only one found previously. The seven new sweeteners are named: eriodictyol, hesperetin, ADMF, DAME, hernandulcin, 4B-hydroxyhernandulcin, and perillaldehyde. The other is Oxime V — a sweetener used in some foods in Japan. It was previously known only as a sweetener that can be made in laboratories.

The new sweeteners have not been tested for their effect on the risk of developing type 2 diabetes or obesity. It was not clear what products could be added to it.

Discussing the results, Wang said: “We were able to identify a natural source of the artificial sweetener, Oxime V, that had not previously been identified from any natural source. This creates expanded opportunities for citrus growers to breed strains that are selected for high yields of sweeteners.”

Sweeteners are known as a popular alternative to sugar in the United States, where more than a third of adults are obese. But a growing body of papers suggests it may negatively affect human health.

In the most comprehensive review to date, the World Health Organization (WHO) said that while sweeteners have a “short-term” benefit in encouraging weight loss, in the long term they can actually lead to weight gain and obesity and increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes..

Some say products filled with these things actually raise a person’s hunger hormone levels because they contain so few calories, which leads to overeating. Others warn that it disrupts the gut microbiome, which can also lead to overeating and therefore weight gain.

Concerns were also raised that sweeteners could increase the risk of heart attacks, after a study found that drinking half a cup of some Diet Coke daily increased the risk by up to a tenth.

Read Today's News TODAY... on our Telegram Channel click here to join and receive all the latest updates