Food producers are turning to innovative new ideas as they increasingly responding to the trend of consumer demand for functional ingredients.
Consumers want healthy options that not only taste good, but also are convenient. The production of bread and baked goods, considered staples of the human diet, has evolved during the past decade with the key ingredients being healthy fats, sodium (less of it) and fibres. The challenge for the industry becomes to increase the good and decrease the bad without sacrificing taste.
|Chocolate and blueberries combine to form a highly functional dessert option.|
An increase in awareness of the heart disease-related risks associated with trans fat led to large-scale development of alternative oils in the industry, and ever-growing research on fat consumption and human disease risk factors will continue to influence ingredient selection.
Such research has increased development of oils rich in omega-3 fatty acids.
We see the effects of this research as these acids are added to products such as Dare Food’s Grissol Rustic Flatbread and Grissol Crispy Baguettes, allowing consumers to increase their consumption of these good fats in this product category.
“Dare continues to prioritize delivering to consumers healthy food options that taste great, whether through new innovation or via improving current products,” Dare Foods Ltd. marketing director Margaret Lucas says.
“The drivers are always based on consumer demand as realized in our consumer research. For example, the Grains First brand was launched to help consumers get their whole grain requirement, as outlined by the Canada Food Guide, by delivering one serving of whole grains in one serving of crackers.”
When Health Canada launched the latest edition of Canada’s Food Guide in 2007, it specifically recommended that at least half of our daily consumption of grain products be whole grain. Therefore, consumers are searching for convenient options to achieve the recommendation.
According to the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, someone dies from heart disease or stroke in this country every seven minutes. Carolyn O’Brien, a registered dietitian with Canada Bread Ltd., describes how in March 2009 Dempster’s launched the Healthy Way ProCardio Recipe range, a new line of breads specifically developed to improve heart health.
ProCardio Recipe bread contains soluble oat fibre to contribute to healthy cholesterol levels; is low in sodium to help reduce the risk of high blood pressure; is low in saturated fat; contains no trans fats; is made with 100 per cent whole grains, including the germ; and is approved by the Heart and Stroke Foundation’s Health Check program.
But lowering sodium in bread products continues to challenge the industry.
“Developing the ProCardio Recipe for our Dempster’s Healthy Way breads took many formulae iterations and prototype tests on the bench before achieving the appropriate level of sodium for a ‘low sodium claim’,” O’Brien says, “all while ensuring typical bread flavours and dough processing at plant level were not compromised.”
When consumers think bread, most think of it as a source of dietary fibre, and the industry is moving toward a variety of fibre ingredients to deliver this to the consumer.
Formulating products with fibre includes several parameters: regulatory requirements, composition, production process and cost/availability of ingredients. Then, of course, the final product has to taste good.
For a successful formulation, bakers most likely have to use a combination of soluble and insoluble fibres. Prebiotics (such as inulin) – soluble dietary fibres that are not digested in the stomach or small intestine, and reach the large intestine intact – are being added to a variety of bakery products. They stimulate the growth and metabolic activity of certain bacteria that are useful to the intestinal flora, thereby providing good digestive health.
A non-traditional ingredient that’s becoming a more mainstream source of increased fibre in bakery products is pulse (beans, peas, lentils and chickpeas) flour. Project Pulse Canada food innovation manager Heather Maskus says the benefits of pulse flour consumption in bakery products are “increased dietary fibre; low glycemic index; gluten-free formulation options; functional properties of whole and split flours, and with other cereal grains forms a complete protein.”
Current applications of pulse flours include bread, muffins, cakes, crackers, brownies and cookies.
As reported in “Sweet Findings for Sourdough,” in Bakers Journal’s November 2008 issue, Dr. Terry Graham and his team at the University of Guelph have been investigating the health benefits of various kinds of bread (white, whole wheat, whole wheat with barley and sourdough white bread). Initial results showed eating sourdough white bread had a preferred response in blood sugar levels and insulin of subjects to other breads used in the study. This research, will provide greater insight on functional ingredients and/or formulations in the area of blood glucose response for the industry to review.
The general consensus is that the industry can expect consumers to demand healthy options made with the best functional ingredients, including omega-3 fatty acids, less sodium and a variety of fibres. Changes in lifestyle, chronic disease states and demographics will continue to serve as a platform for innovative com-panies to grow and thrive.
Jane Dummer is a registered dietitian. Visit her website at www.janedummer.com.
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