Tagatose is a sugar similar to fructose

Tagatose is a simple sugar (monosaccharide) with the same formula as fructose (C6H12O6) but with a different arrangement of atoms [1]. The exact chemical name is D-tagatose.

Nutritional Facts:

  • Calories per gram = 1.5-2.4
  • Glycemic index (GI) = 3
  • Sweetness, relative to sucrose = 75-92%
  • Net carbohydrates = 3%

Tagatose is an artificial sweetener produced from whey

Tagatose as a food additive is artificially produced from lactose, which is obtained from whey and this from cow’s milk [1].

Tagatose Calories and Net Carbs

Tagatose has almost no effect on blood glucose levels, so it does not contribute to net carbs and should be also distracted from the total carbs. Tagatose provides only 1.5 Calories (kilocalories) per gram (according to food labels in the United States) or 2.4 kcal/g (food labels in European Union), so is considered a low-calorie sweetener  [4]. Tagatose is one of the “allowed” sugars in low-carbohydrate diets.

Absorption and Metabolism

Only about 20% of tagatose is absorbed in the small intestine, the rest passes to the large intestine where it is mostly fermented (metabolized) by beneficial intestinal bacteria into short chain fatty acids (SCFA), which are absorbed [1]. In the human liver, tagatose is metabolized the same way as fructose – it is converted to glucose, which can be then either stored in the form of glycogen or broken down to produce energy  [1].

Taste, Sweetness

Tagatose has a clean, neutral sweet taste, and is 75-92% as sweet as sucrose [1].

Tagatose Properties and Baking

  • A white, odorless, crystalline powder, well soluble in water (160 g/100 mL at 20° C) and poorly soluble in ethanol.
  • Low hygroscopicity – it does not readily attracts moisture.
  • Melting point: 133-137° C (271-279° F).
  • Tagatose is a reducing sugar, which undergoes the Maillard browning reaction with amino acids, so it gives brown color to baked goods.
  • Tagatose undergoes caramelization at temperatures as low as 40° C (104° F).
  • References: [1,5]

Products with Tagatose

Tagatose occurs in small amounts in cooked or sterilized cow’s milk and naturally in apples, pineapples, oranges, raisins and dates.

Tagatose can be used as a sweetener, texturizer, humectant, stabilizer or flavor enhancer in “low-calorie products” or “diet soft drinks,” coffee, yogurts, chewing gum, candies, chocolate, baked goods, frozen dairy products, ready-to-eat cereals, frostings and fillings. It is used as a general-purpose sweetener in South Korea, New Zealand and Australia. It is also used in some toothpastes and mouthwashes. References: [1,5]

Tagatose Safety

In the European Union, tagatose is considered a novel food – a food that was not used in considerable amounts in the EU before y. 1997, so its long-term safety is not known [7]. D-tagatose is Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS) by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) [3]. The World Health Organization’s Joint Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) has left Acceptable Daily Intake for tagatose as “ADI unspecified,” which means even high intakes are not expected to have long-term toxic effects [2].

Tolerance, Side Effects, Dangers

In sensitive individuals, tagatose, when taken in doses higher than 10-15 grams per meal may cause mild digestive problems, such as nausea, flatulence and diarrhea. Doses as high as 45 grams per day can be well tolerated, though. Tagatose is probably not safe to use by individuals with hereditary fructose intolerance (HFI) since it is metabolized the same way as fructose, but accidental intake of small amounts of tagatose from commercial products is not likely harmful. Tagatose does not affect the absorption of fructose in individuals with fructose malabsorption (FM), though. It slightly increases blood uric acid levels, but there is no evidence that it increases the risk of gout. Tagatose does not likely trigger allergic reaction in individuals with milk allergy.

Reference: [1]

Tagatose and Diabetes

  • Tagatose does not significantly raise blood glucose and insulin levels in healthy individuals and those with diabetes 2 [1].
  • Tagatose consumed before a carbohydrate meal attenuates the rise of blood glucose levels after the meal [1]. Tagatose is currently being studied as a glucose-lowering drug for diabetes 2 [6].

Glycemic Index

Glycemic Index (GI) of tagatose is only 3, which means it raises blood sugar levels only by 3% compared with glucose [1].

Tagatose and Dental Caries

Tagatose does not promote tooth decay [1,2].

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Is tagatose vegan?

No. Tagatose is produced from whey, which is a milk product.

2. Is tagatose prebiotic?

Tagatose may be considered a prebiotic because it stimulates the growth of beneficial intestinal bacteria, which produce short-chain fatty acids (SCFA), which can be beneficial for the colon lining [1].

3. Does tagatose promote weight loss?

Tagatose has only about 40% of caloric value of sucrose, but there is no evidence that replacement of table sugar with tagatose promotes weight loss.

4. Can tagatose be bad for you?

Except mild digestive problems at higher intakes, no toxic effects of tagatose have been observed so far. Tagatose has also not been associated with cancer or birth defects.

5. Tagatose vs Stevia vs Sucralose

Tagatose has 1.5 Calories (kilocalories) per gram, while stevia and sucralose contain no calories.

16 Responses to "Tagatose"

  1. Cristina says:

    Is tagatose dangerous as fructose?

    • Jan Modric says:

      Neither tagatose nor fructose are dangerous by themselves. Tagatose is better tolerated than fructose by individuals with fructose malabsorption, though.

    • Cheryl Doll says:

      Further reading for you on the subject of intolerance to fructose indicate that those who cannot digest fructose also should not consume Tagatose because the body digests them in a similar manner. The article above clearly states, “Tagatose is probably not safe to use by individuals with hereditary fructose intolerance (HFI) since it is metabolized the same way as fructose…” If you have HFI, then you should NOT consume Tagatose. I’ve run across this same info in a number of articles. So, to answer your question based on this info then, FOR A PERSON WITH HFI, Tagatose is definitely dangerous.

  2. Ana says:

    Is Tagatose as safe to use as Stevia? My husband and I are doing low carbs low sugar for he has fatty liver Cihrrosis and sugar was beginning to get off normal range. He is trim, but loves sweets. Missing some desserts with this Keto diet. His sugar has come down to normal rates so I was looking to make some allowed desserts using this Tagatose. I’ve never heard of it, only a few days ago I found a Spanish website with tips and Keto recipes from Europe, and noticed how she uses Tagatose. So I finally found it and ordered it. So excited! I will appreciate it so much you answer my question. Ana

    • Jan Modric says:

      You can read the “Tagatose Safety” part of the article above. The current opinion of Health and Food Safety Directorate in the European Commission, Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the US, and World Health Organization (WHO) is that tagatose is safe.

  3. Richard F Tosti says:

    Where can I find tagatose in ocala, fl?

  4. Tosin says:

    Pls,I’m based in Nigeria, how can i order for Tagatose?I need it for my products,will appreciate your response as soon as possible, thanks.

  5. Traci Eaton says:

    HOw does Tagatose compare to Erythritol? I use Erythritol because it has no detectable nasty after taste like Stevia and most other non sugar sweeteners. I have no trouble digesting it but I am suspicious of these new products that are combining two or more sweeteners.

    • Jan Modric says:

      Tagatose is a sugar, a monosaccharide, which is chemically similar to fructose and has about 2 Calories per gram. It can be produced from lactose. Erythritol is a sugar alcohol and has 0.2 Calories per gram by some estimations. They are both artificial sweeteners.

      I haven’t found an evidence of any significant danger for either of these 2 sweeteners. But one can also use taste, eventual gastrointestinal problems and intuition to judge what’s appropriate.

  6. Sonya Solomon Piell says:

    Does anyone know about the freezing properties of tagatose? I make my own low carb ice cream. Erythritol, which has the lowest glycemin index, freezes too hard. Xylitol freezes well but has a higher GI.

  7. Woody Acton says:

    Using tagatose, I make my own ice cream and my own chocolate syrup. The tagatose is amazing, I didn’t have to ‘adjust’ either recipe. The ice cream freezes with perfect texture. I use the tagatose to replace sucrose, very same measurement. I’m an adult onset diabetic & I’ve not had any gastrointestinal issues with tagatose. The only issue I’ve had is not having to use any insulin now when I have ice cream!

  8. Per-Einar Rosenhave says:

    I agree 100% with Woody Acton above. Using tagatose, I make my own ice cream, cakes and even creme caramel with a nice brown caramel sauce made of pure tagatose, – made as I would do using ordinary sugar. Just remember it’s getting brown faster and by a lower temperature than sugar.

  9. Per-Einar Rosenhave says:

    Tagatose can also be used to enhance the glycemic control of persons with type 2 diabetes as determined by HbA1c.

    Pls see: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25580449

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *