Bakery products that go beyond basic nutrition are moving mainstream. Explore some of the latest trends in this emerging area of baking science.
|Pomegranates are among the fruits being incorporated into bakery products for their antioxident qualities.|
| Vitalicious had three primary objectives in developing its product line: nutrition, weight control and natural ingredients. |
Nutraceuticals may sound complicated, but they are simply ingredients used to make bakery products more nutritious. They can be whole ingredients, such as fruits or nuts. Or, they can be encapsulated nutrients, such as omega 3s. These active ingredients are moving onto the food scene in seemingly limitless forms and foods. Bakery food manufacturers have only begun to explore the possibilities of development in this arena.
“Nutraceuticals are the bio-active ingredients in products that make the food functional,” says Todd Runestad, science editor for Functional Foods & Nutraceuticals magazine. “Functional foods go beyond basic nutrition," he adds.
Some debate has emerged recently among baking industry observers that bakery manufacturers are trying to do too much with their products. Particularly as companies develop more healthful and nutritious bakery foods, some media pundits have complained that bakery products do not need to be healthful.
Producing healthful baked products, even ones that qualify for health caims, is not for everyone. But, as has been made apparent by the rolling wave of trans-fat bans and the all-encompassing effects of popular fad diets, the industry needs to be proactive in product development to prepare for health movements and even capitalize on them.
Baking Management spoke with bakery manufacturers, ingredient suppliers and food scientists to determine some key nutraceutical and functional food trends affecting the baking industry. As endless as food science itself, this list is by no means complete. It is merely an attempt to explore some of the latest nutraceutical uses in
Interestingly, one of the most active areas of product development is emerging out of the movement to take out trans fatty acids. While reducing or eliminating trans fats from bakery foods does not necessarily qualify it as a ‘functional food,’ the trans-fat issue has opened the door to new developments in bakery ingredients. Researching the functionality of trans fats in the baking process has lead to exploration of alternative oils and other ingredients, such as fiber, that can help uphold the qualities of bakery products when trans fatty acids are eliminated.
Some oils are even being touted for their health benefits, and consumers are becoming more educated about ‘bad fats’ and ‘good fats.’ Nature’s Path Foods, for example, promotes the specific type of oil it uses in its new line of organic toaster pastries. “At Nature’s Path, we use organic palm oil, which has antioxidant qualities and provides a natural balance of saturated and unsaturated fats,” the company says in a released statement.
Beyond producing better-for-you baked products, some companies are developing bakery products that target specific health conditions. New Jersey-based RD Foods produces a line of Right Direction Cookies, designed to lower consumers’ cholesterol. Soluble fiber and plant sterols are the key nutraceuticals in the cookies, says RD Foods President Wendy Miller.
Pharmachem Laboratories, Kearny, N.J., is another innovator working to bring more functional ingredients to the baking industry.
“I’m seeing fortifications for weight control, energy, relaxation and even bone health,” says Gregory Drew of Pharmachem Laboratories. “Weight control in the nutraceutical industry has always been a big category. It is only just emerging in the food industry,” he adds.
One of Phamachem’s ingredients, called StarchLite™, is a natural extract of white beans. Originally used in dietary supplements, the ingredient is now generally recognized as safe (GRAS) and is being used in pizza crusts, tortillas, baking mixes and pastas. The natural ingredient helps consumers control their weight, reduce digestion of dietary starch and reduce Glycemic Index (GI), Drew says.
“When we eat carbohydrates, our bodies’ digestive enzyme alpha-amylase breaks down starch into sugar into fat,” he says. “StarchLite binds to that enzyme, so that much of the starch gets passed.”
Weight control is one of the key objectives for New York City-based Vitalicious, a baking company that specializes in healthful bakery products, including muffins, muffin tops and VitaCakes. Vitalicious President Aryeh Hecht founded the company in 1999 because he could not find any healthful, satisfying bakery foods to eat while he was commuting from Philadelphia to New York City. “I wanted something that could help manage my weight, be nutritious and be all natural,” Hecht says. “It also needed to taste good and be something indulgent.”
Developing the core products that Vitalicious offers today has been a work in progress to meet all of Hecht’s
objectives. Vitalicious’ product line is whole wheat, high fiber and fortified with vitamins and minerals. Some products also incorporate the healthful qualities of specialty ingredients, such as dark chocolate, nuts and pomegranate.
Pomegranates, blueberries and other deeply-colored fruits are being added to bars, cereal and bakery products for their antioxidant attributes, Runestad says. Cherry Pomegran™ is among Nature’s Path’s newest toaster pastry flavors, which also includes blueberry, strawberry, chocolate and brown sugar maple cinnamon.
Fiber and whole grains are other nutraceutical areas resonating well with consumers. In fact, 82 percent of U.S. consumers ranked “eating fiber” as an important factor in maintaining a healthy diet, says Rajen Mehta, a senior manager for SunOpta Ingredients Group. Fiber was among the top consumer factors in the November 2006 Datamonitor study, ranking third behind only “drinking plenty of water” and “eating fresh food and drinks.” For more details about fiber, turn to the article on page 22.
Bakery manufacturers also continue to develop products with omega 3 fortifications, particularly in breads and tortillas. Whatever the nutraceutical, the key is clearly defining your bakery’s objectives in the product development stage and finding a supplier that also understands the bakery manufacturing process.
“It is very easy to change the nutritional profile, but to deliver the taste, texture and mouthfeel is the tough part,” Mehta says.