Group of researchers at Nestle R&D Center

Researchers for food manufacturer Nestle claim that they have engineered a natural way to structure sugar that enables manufacturers to use up to 40% less without reducing the sweetness of their products.

In what the New York Times is referring to as “sugar lite”, this development would allow products, like candy, to taste sweeter but with smaller amounts of sugar. If it were to fully optimized, this breakthrough would be a turning point in making sweet products healthier.

"With this new restructured sugar you essentially get the same pay-off, the same taste of sugar on your tongue, but because the inside of the structure is hollow, you're not ingesting additional sugar," says Lisa Gibby, vice president of corporate communications at Nestle S.A.

The company is currently patenting this discovery and plans to release confectionary products using the new sugar in 2018.

Dr. Stefan Catsicas, chief technology officer at Nestle, compares a normal crystal of sugar to a shoe box, where the box is made of sugar and everything inside it is also made of sugar. The new sugar, he said, will be processed to have the same sugar exterior — though it may be a globe instead of a box — to dissolve in the mouth. Because less sugar is inside, less goes to the stomach.

Nestle expects to provide more details about reduced-sugar products sometime in 2017.