As a result of society's sugar addiction, health conditions like diabetes and obesity have become a big problem.
However, MycoTechnology is a start-up from Aurora, Colorado that's on a mission to change the way we use sugar in our food by swapping out this unhealthy ingredient with a pretty unlikely alternative: mushrooms.
Yep, that's right. Mushrooms could be the magic alternative to putting copious amounts of sweeteners in a variety of processed snacks.
So then, how exactly are mushrooms going to solve the world's sugar dependency?
Well, it's actually quite simple.
Since many foods like coffee, chocolate and wheat-based products have a naturally-occurring bitter flavor, the sweet taste of sugar is typically used to mask the bitterness and make things taste better.
But as society increasingly becomes more health-conscious, more companies are looking for a way to cut back on sugar without sacrificing the taste of their products.
That's where the mushrooms come into play.
MycoTechnology discovered that invisible fungus molecules can be used to prevent the taste buds from detecting the unfavorable flavors that naturally occur in foods.
Unlike other sugar substitutes such as saccharin and aspartame, the mushroom-derived fungus, called mycelium, isn't a sweetener at all.
Rather, mycelium is a flavorless molecule that blocks out bitter tastes, thus allowing companies to cut back on sweeteners by eliminating the need to use sugar as a masking agent.
Alan Hahn, the CEO of MycoTechnology, told Quartz,
What we've done is create something that's totally the opposite of a masking agent. We created a bitter blocker.
Here's how the whole thing works.
After MycoTechnology grows and collects the mycelium, it is dried, crushed into a powder that is mixed into liquid form and then finally added to food products while they are being processed.
When you eat food containing mycelium, the invisible fungus molecules attach to the tongue's bitter-detecting taste buds for about 10 seconds, which is just enough time to block out the unwanted bitter flavors present in the food.
So, there you have it. Mushrooms may, in fact, be the key to maintaining your flawless figure.