Clear beverage benefits for encapsulating

by Jeff Gelski
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Encapsulation innovation is causing ripples in the beverage category through such potential additions as omega-3 fatty acids and choline, both known for health benefits.

A way to nanoencapsulate long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids like docosahexaenoic fatty acid (DHA), a form of omega-3 fatty acid, for use in the enrichment of clear acid drinks appears in the June issue of Food Hydrocolloids. It involves a new nanoencapsulation method developed by Dr. Yoav D. Livney, Ph.D., and his students at the Department of Biotechnology and Food Engineering at The Technion, Israel Institute of Technology.

According to the article, DHA and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), another omega-3 fatty acid, are hydrophobic and practically insoluble in water, even in free fatty acid form. In response, the new nanoencapsulation technology developed at The Technion involves beta-lactoglobulin, a whey protein from cow’s milk, and pectin from citrus fruit. Beta-lactoglobulin-pectin nanocomplexes thus are proposed as vehicles for the enrichment of clear beverages.

"Beta-lactoglobulin can bind several types of hydrophobic compounds, like vitamins A and D," Dr. Livney said. "We have recently found it can also bind DHA, an omega-3 fatty acid of important health benefits."

The nanoencapsulation involves forming nanocomplexes with pectin to gain extra protection against deterioration of the entrapped nutraceutical and to improve colloidal stability, he said. The complexes are small enough so as not to scatter too much light, which makes them useful for enriching clear beverages.

The protection also diminishes the formation of undesired flavors and odors, according to the article in Food Hydrocolloids. Further study will test the heat stability of the nanocomplexes and the protection conferred to the encapsulant during heat treatments typical for industrial beverage pasteurization.

Omega-3 fatty acids already have found their way into such products as yogurt, juice and nutrition bars. Clinical trials have focused on omega-3 fatty acid effects in such benefits as brain and heart health. Seventy-four per cent of the respondents in the 2009 International Food Information Council

Foundation’s Food & Health Survey said they had heard of omega-3 fatty acids.

Balchem Corp., New Hampton, N.Y., promotes choline’s health benefits, such as improved memory and a healthier liver, through its web site.

PepsiCo, Inc., Purchase, N.Y., this year added choline and vitamin E to its Propel Mind enhanced water, and Balchem is pushing for encapsulated choline in more food and beverage products. The company said choline nutrient product volumes for the supplement marketplace in the first quarter ended March 31 were down about 11% from the previous year’s first-quarter volumes.

"We continue to see many customers aggressively managing inventory levels down by delaying orders in response to certain retail product line slowness," said Frank Fitzpatrick, chief financial officer for Balchem, in a May 1 earnings conference call. "We did not lose any customers, and we continue to focus on building consumer recognition on the benefits of choline, hence choline inclusion in more foods and fortified drinks."

Vitamin D and green tea extracts are two other areas of interest for encapsulation. Dr. Livney and his team at The Technion also have created a novel technology for using casein micelles as nano-delivery vehicles for nutraceuticals. Casein micelles have evolved naturally to deliver calcium, phosphate and protein from mother to baby, he said.

Work at The Technion has harnessed casein micelles to deliver other essential micronutrients and nutraceuticals by binding hydrophobic compounds like vitamin D to the casein and then inducing re-formation of casein micelles by reconstituting the natural mineral composition of milk in an industrially scalable process.

"We have evidence suggesting that practically all of the vitamin binds to the protein and most of it is entrapped within the reinforced micelles," he said. "Moreover, the nanoencapsulation provides protection against degradation of the vitamin during processing and shelf life of the product."

Maxx Performance, Chester, N.Y., has introduced a microencapsulation solution that allows manufacturers to add green tea extracts and their antioxidants to baked foods and other formulations without compromising flavor. Through microencapsulation, the company coated the green tea extract with a tasteless film of vegetable food-grade material to deliver a tasteless, free-flowing powder that may be used in baked foods, nutrient bars, soft chews, powdered mixes and other applications.

The green tea extract is 48% epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), a polyphenol/antioxidant known for its health benefits.

This article can also be found in the digital edition of Food Business News, June 9, 2009, starting on Page 1. Click
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