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What is trehalose
- Apr 12, 2018 -

What is trehalose?

Trehalose is a sugar, a disaccharide composed of two glucose molecules joined by an alpha-alpha (1,1) glycosidic bond [1].

Trehalose structure

Picture 1. Trehalose structural formula

Nutrition Facts for Trehalose

  • Calories per gram = 4 [3]

  • Glycemic index (GI) = 72 (high) [16-p.9]

  • Sweetness, relative to sucrose = 45% [1]

  • Net carbohydrates = 100%


Trehalose Sources

Trehalose occurs naturally in small amounts in mushrooms, honey, lobsters, shrimps, certain seaweeds (algae), wine, beer, bread and other foods produced by using baker’s or brewer’s yeast [3].

As a food additive, trehalose is artificially produced from corn starch using several bacterial enzymes such as alpha-amylase, obtained from Bacillus licheniformis, and isoamylase from Pseudomonas amyloderamosa [1,3,4]. Trehalose is heat stable and preserves the cell structure of foods after heating and freezing, so it is used as a food texturizer and stabilizer in dried foods, frozen foods, nutrition bars, fruit fillings and jams, instant noodles and rice, white chocolate, sugar coating, bakery cream, processed seafood and fruit juices [3,4].

Trehalose Function in the Human Body

Trehalose is a source of energy – it can provide about 4 Calories per gram, about the same as sucrose [3].

Trehalose Safety

In the EU [5] and Australia [3], trehalose is considered a novel food – a food that does not have a long-term history of safe use. Trehalose as a food additive is safe to use; it is Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS) by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) [6]. Trehalose is approved and commonly used in Japan, Taiwan and south Korea; it is also approved in the EU, Australia and New Zealand [7].

According to some laboratory studies published in Nature in January 2018, trehalose stimulates the growth of certain strains of Clostridium difficile bacteria. These bacteria can cause severe inflammation of the colon, especially in the patients treated in hospitals. In one study in mice, dietary trehalose increased the severity of the infection caused by C. difficile. More studies are needed to find out if trehalose increases the risk and severity of the infection in humans.