Bakers Journal

Features Technical
The Final Proof: December 2010


November 11, 2010
By Jane Dummer


Topics

Did you know watermelon is the second best fruit?” someone commented to me at a recent social gathering. I’m thinking, well then, what is the best fruit?  With food, nutrition and health top of mind, everyone from Oprah to Dr. Oz and celebrity chefs is a self-proclaimed expert. The latest term the “experts” are using is antioxidants. The next outburst from my fruit expert at the party was: “Well, did you know that green tea has eight times the antioxidant power of regular tea.” Fortunately, someone else came into the conversation, so I excused myself, telling them I was going to get some antioxidant-rich red wine.

Did you know watermelon is the second best fruit?” someone commented to me at a recent social gathering. I’m thinking, well then, what is the best fruit?  With food, nutrition and health top of mind, everyone from Oprah to Dr. Oz and celebrity chefs is a self-proclaimed expert. The latest term the “experts” are using is antioxidants. The next outburst from my fruit expert at the party was: “Well, did you know that green tea has eight times the antioxidant power of regular tea.” Fortunately, someone else came into the conversation, so I excused myself, telling them I was going to get some antioxidant-rich red wine.

Chieko Yamamoto, vice-president and COO of the AOI Tea Company based in Huntington Beach, Calif., says that matcha green tea powder is very popular in Japan for making matcha doughnuts and cookies. 

“Our ingredients, matcha with chlorella, are used to make matcha bread, as they lend a fresher colour and have superior heat and light resistance, giving a natural rich green colour to baking goods,” explains Yamamoto. 

The request for their matcha ingredients is increasing in Canada and the United States. Consumers are becoming more aware of the health benefits of the matcha green tea, including its antioxidant value (polyphenol-catechin), and asking for it.

Grant Smith, president of RFI Canada in Unionville, Ont., says: “There is a great demand for healthy ingredients, including antioxidants such as green tea extract and powders, in the baking industry across North America.” Smith suggests one way for consumers to have a connection to an antioxidant “effect” of the product is to provide an ORAC value of the final application. ORAC stands for oxygen radical absorbance capacity and is a USDA-developed method that measures the antioxidant potency of a substance. Consumers are familiar with it, as this method is commonly used in the dietary supplement industry to describe an antioxidant’s potency. As an experienced food and nutrition professional, Smith identifies that high temperatures (such as bake step) degrade antioxidant potency. A solution is to include extra amounts of the antioxidant ingredient in the same way it is done for vitamin C fortification (which also doesn’t hold up well to high heat). Viability of the ingredient through processing depends upon how high and how long the heat exposure is with the individual ingredients. Smith cautions manufacturers to understand the detailed regulatory requirements and environments both in Canada and the U.S. when adding antioxidants to foods, including baked goods.

Cocoa is another popular antioxidant-rich ingredient demanded by the industry and consumers.

Jenn Stone, a pastry chef and chocolatier who is now part of the team at Xococava in Toronto, says that “during the last five years the consumer has become more aware of the term antioxidant.”

People are requesting Xococava’s wild blueberry and black walnut bark with Belgian dark chocolate, whose ingredients are all known for their antioxidant properties. They relate chocolate to improved heart health and better mood. Stone observes that Canadians are acquiring the taste for higher quality chocolate (in the bittersweet range of 63 per cent cocoa plus that has higher antioxidant levels), and suggests they may be eating less of the better product because of the flavour factor leading to early satiety.

Barry Callebaut, North America, recently launched Acticoa. This chocolate provides 880 milligrams of cocoa flavanols per 40-gram serving. Alan Slensinski, R&D innovation manager, describes the process used to create Acticoa chocolate beginning at harvest from the cacao tree. Special control and handling of the beans through the fermentation process maintains the maximum flavanol content from the raw unfermented beans. Care is also taken during the roasting and conching processes to avoid degradation of the flavanols during the chocolate making process. Acticoa chocolate is shown to be stable through the baking process. Applications are in the form of baking chips or chunks; however, Acticoa can also be used as a coating for enrobing, bottoming or drizzling onto baked items. These chocolate products are expected to hit the market over the next few months.

The growth of healthy ingredients, including green tea powders and cocoa, is on the rise in the baking industry. Consumers are hip to the word antioxidant, with some understanding. The more the industry uses these healthy ingredients, the more there is a need for consumer education. One company that does a great job combining quality mainstream products with antioxidants and consumer education via their website is Leclerc, the makers of the Praeventia cookie line.

For further resources from this article, check out www.rfiingredients.com, www.aoitea.com, www.barry-callebaut.com and www.leclerc.ca.

It’s all very interesting . . . although I still wonder what the best fruit is and why watermelon was considered second!


Jane Dummer, RD, is a leading dietitian for the Canadian food and nutrition industry. Jane offers services specializing in agri-food, functional foods and food safety. For more information, visit www.janedummer.com .


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