Stevia sweeter information for planetary well being than cane and beet sugar, suggests analysis

The analysis was undertaken as a part of SWEET, a European Fee Horizon 2020 funded undertaking supported by pan-European analysis, shopper, and trade companions.

The five-year undertaking goals to develop and evaluate proof on long-term advantages and potential dangers concerned in switching over to sweeteners and sweetness enhancers within the context of public well being and security, weight problems, and sustainability.

“There are plenty of sweeteners and enhancers about, however the sugar trade hasn’t utilised these in the best way that maybe we want, by way of lowering the degrees of sugar within the weight-reduction plan,” ​defined European Affiliation for the Research of Weight problems (EASO) president Jason Holford, a coordinator of the SWEET undertaking.

“That is due to technical difficulties, nevertheless it’s additionally about considerations from customers about a few of these components.”​

Whereas a lot work has been finished to know the security of sweeteners, researchers noticed ‘little or no’ has been undertaken to know the class’s sustainability profile.

To handle that hole, a gaggle of worldwide researchers – led by the College of Surrey’s Centre for Atmosphere and Sustainability – has performed a life cycle evaluation of (LCA) for European manufacturing of standard sweetener stevia.

The research, revealed in ‘The Worldwide Journal of Life Cycle Evaluation’, focuses on manufacturing of rebaudioside A 60%, 95% pure (RA60) steviol glycoside combine from Stevia rebaudiana leaf (in any other case often called candyleaf, sweetleaf or sugarleaf) grown in Europe.

Sugarcane and sugar beet: unsustainable crops?​

The cradle-to-factory-gate LCA centered on international warming potential, freshwater eutrophication (accumulation of vitamins in freshwater sources), water consumption, and land use.

Researchers analysed environmental impacts by way of each manufacturing mass and sweetness equivalence. The sweetness equivalence of RA60 is often 200 to 300 instances that of sugar.

The research in contrast the environmental influence of RA60 to that of sugar (sucrose) derived from each cane and beets – an ingredient underneath fireplace for its hefty environmental footprint.

Non-nutritive sweeteners (NNS) like steviol glycosides are many instances sweeter than sugar. For instance, 4g of steviol glycosides gives the sweetness equal of 1,000g sugar, as a result of it’s perceived to be 250 instances sweeter.

Sugercane is probably the most produced meals crop on the planet, with yield having elevated 15% during the last decade. Based on AI-powdered analytics supplier Spoonshot, each sugarcane and sugarbeet are water- and land-intensive crops.

In a latest report​, the corporate calculated the worldwide common water footprint of manufacturing one kilogram of refined sugar from sugarcane is about 1,782 litres of water. For sugar derived from beets, the water requirement is round 920 litres.

Clearing land for elevated sugar manufacturing takes its toll on biodiversity, as can inputs from fertilizers and pesticides. These chemical compounds are thought to have damaging implications for land, groundwater and consuming water provides.

“The lengthy and wanting that is that sugar crops are more and more turning into unviable in an period when environmental and local weather points are on the forefront of everybody’s thoughts,” ​famous Spoonshot within the report​.

‘Steviol glycosides may very well be candy information for the well being of our planet’​

In what’s the first LCA of steviol glycoside combine RA60 produced from leaf in Europe, it was discovered the manufacturing of the sweetener induced much less environmental influence throughout a variety of markers, when in comparison with sugar.

For instance, it affords a chance to scale back land use or water consumption in comparison with the identical degree of sweetness as sugar.

The worldwide warming potential of RA60 was discovered to be 20.25kg CO2e/kg on a mass foundation and 0.081kg/CO2e/kg on a sweetness equivalence foundation.

The first supply of influence was the sector manufacturing of stevia leaves, with the second most vital coming from extraction of the RA60. “Leaf processing and seedling propagation have been minor contributors to life cycle influence,” ​defined the researchers.

By eradicating the worldwide transport component, international warming potential was decreased by 18.8%. In contrast with sugar on a sweetness equivalence foundation, RA60 has roughly 5.7% to 10.2% the influence for international warming potential, 5.6% to 7.2% the influence for land use, and is decrease throughout most different influence classes.

“Using steviol glycosides and comparable pure merchandise may very well be candy information for the well being of our planet,” ​mentioned the College of Surrey’s Dr James Suckling, lead creator of the research.

“My hope is that trade takes reassurance that in the event that they select to make use of steviol rebaudioside A 60% (RA60) constituted of leaves, as an alternative of sugar, they don’t seem to be going to trigger unintended damaging environmental influence,”​ he informed this publication. “Steviol glycosides are additionally very fascinating in that they are often produced on land beforehand used for tobacco cultivation. In international locations like Greece, stevia affords a viablealternative crop for farmers wishing to transition away from tobacco for no matter motive.​”

Whereas many non-nutritive sweeteners (NNS), like steviol glycosides, don’t current the identical well being dangers related to sucrose – similar to tooth decay, weight problems, or diabetes – as a result of they’re many instances sweeter, the researcher did counsel extra analysis is required into the well being impacts of the NNS class.

“Using steviol glycosides and comparable pure merchandise may very well be candy information for the well being of our planet. Nevertheless, our research readily admits that rather more work must be finished to know the well being impacts of steviol glycosides and different non-nutritive sweeteners when consumed as a part of a wider weight-reduction plan.”​

Supply: The Worldwide Journal of Life Cycle Evaluation

‘Environmental life cycle evaluation of manufacturing of the excessive depth sweetener steviol glycosides from Stevia rebaudiana leaf grown in Europe: The SWEET undertaking’

Revealed 14 January 2023


Authors: J. Suckling, S. Morse, R. Murphy, S. Astley et al.