Sticking to a low-sugar diet won't alter one's love for sweet food, a new study reveals. People may find ordinary dessert too sweet after going on a strict low-sugar diet, but their preferred level of sweetness in food and drinks remains the same.

Researchers from the Monell Chemical Senses Center wanted to examine low-sugar diets and how it affects one's sense of taste. They examined healthy adults who consumed two or more sugary drinks per day and consumed sweeteners frequently.

The participants were divided into two groups, a treatment (13) group and a control (16) group. The control group maintained their usual diet while the treatment group reduced their sugar intake by replacing 40 percent of their caloric intake from sugar with proteins, fats and carbohydrates.

For three months, a test to rate the intensity of sweetness and pleasantness of desserts like sweetened vanilla puddings and raspberry beverages were conducted. The people on the reduced-sugar diet reported that the dessert is too sweet.

However, even though their consumption of sugar was altered and reduced in the past three months, their desired level of sweetness for food and beverage did not change. The treatment (reduced-sugar) group's preferred sugar level had averaged 32.4 percent while the control group's averaged 31.2 percent.

"Over-consumption of sugar is widely believed to contribute to obesity and related health problems such as heart disease. If people could adjust to a lower-sugar diet over time without affecting food acceptance, it might be possible to gradually reduce added sugars in food and beverages without causing rejection," Paul Wise, a sensory psychologist at Monell Center said in a press release.

When the participants were instructed to choose their own diet regimen, those in the reduced-sugar group quickly upped their sugar intake to baseline levels, with their perception of sweetness intensity reverting back to pre-diet levels. The researchers say that this finding will shed light on the importance of cutting added sugars in the diet. This could also help in the management of patients with diabetes or high blood sugar levels.

In their past study, they examined how low salt diets alter one's future preference for food. Contrary to those who went on low-sugar diets, people who consumed a low-salt diet preferred less salt over time.

"This experiment provides empirical evidence that changes in consumption of simple sugars influence perceived sweet taste intensity. More work is needed to determine whether sugar intake ultimately shifts preferences for sweet foods and beverages," the researchers wrote in the study.

The study was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Photo: Coralie Ferreira | Flickr 

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