KANSAS CITY — Advice on which ingredients are healthy and which are not may be confusing at times, but views on fruits and vegetables seem clear. Federal agencies recommend increased consumption, and consumers agree, saying in at least one survey that they are trying to eat more fruits and vegetables.
Grain-based foods companies should know ways to incorporate fruits and vegetables into their products are bountiful.
The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans cite the Healthy U.S.-Style Eating Pattern, which recommends 2½ cup-equivalents of vegetables and 2 cup-equivalents of
fruit at a daily 2,000-calorie level.
The International Food Information Council Foundation’s 2016 Food and Health Survey found 28% of Americans who responded said they began trying to eat more fruits and vegetables in the past year and 53% said they had been trying to eat more fruits and vegetables for more than a year. Groups likely to be eating more fruits and vegetables included people age 35-80, college graduates, people with higher incomes, women, and people in better health.
The polyphenol content of grapes, the fiber levels of prunes and the vitamin A found in sweet potatoes are some of the health attributes of fruits and vegetables. Companies should promote benefits consumers understand, however. For example, the IFIC survey found 83% said they rated vitamin C as healthy while 21% rated ascorbic acid, the chemical name for vitamin C, as healthy.
The level of polyphenols (plant-based antioxidants) in Concord grape juice trails only pomegranate juice among major juices, according to Welch’s Global Ingredients Group, Concord, Mass., but not everyone knows what polyphenols are.
“Japan is very, very aware (of polyphenols),” said Wayne Lutomski, vice-president of international and global ingredients for Welch’s Global Ingredients Group. “Asia in general is very aware of polyphenols, but here in the States it’s still a relatively low level (of awareness), but it’s growing fast. Most people here are more familiar with antioxidants.”
Welch’s Global Ingredients Group offers FruitWorx fruit pieces made with an Ultra Rapid Concentration process.
“People are familiar with the Concord flavor here in this country, but it’s been locked up in a bottle for 145 years,” Mr. Lutomski said. “It’s not been available in applications like baked goods and confections and things of that nature.”
FruitWorx allows for the incorporation of the Concord taste and high polyphenol content into baked foods. The polyphenol content in a 1-oz serving of FruitWorx is equal to a 4-oz glass of juice, Mr. Lutomski said. Formulators may add an oz of FruitWorx in a muffin or ¼ oz to 1/3 oz to a nutrition bar.
“The beauty of it is, it is made specifically for that purpose, to be used in baked goods, nutrition bars, performance bars, also in muffins, cookies and donuts,” Mr. Lutomski said.
For a shelf life benefit, FruitWorx has been shown to stop water from migrating out of the fruit in the baked food.
“We can modify our product by how long we concentrate it, by how much concentrate we put in versus puree and so forth, to match the host,” Mr. Lutomski said.
FruitWorx comes in several versions. While Concord is 100% Concord, apple-Concord is 50% apple and 50% Concord and thus less expensive. A FruitWorx version that contains added sugar also is less expensive.
Prunes for fiber, digestion
Prunes may bump up the fiber content of grain-based foods. The IFIC survey found 60% of respondents said they were trying to consume more fiber, which placed second to protein at 64%.
Sunsweet Growers, Inc., Yuba City, Calif., offers prune ingredients containing 3 grams of fiber per 40-gram serving. The company has developed sandwich-style prune bread applications where the prune component adds about 1 gram of fiber per serving (slice) of bread, said Tom Leahy, spokesperson for Sunsweet Growers.
“Actually, we don’t promote the use of prune products in bakery as a way of adding fiber (using whole grains is a better way to do this), but rather as a means of improving taste, providing moisture retention, lowering fats and, in some cases, imparting a digestive health halo,” he said. “Along those lines, however, we do say that prune ingredient products such as our puree can play a big role on increasing the fiber content of baked goods because they are very effective at masking the off-flavors and rough texture that often is a byproduct of some of the healthier whole grains that are coming into the market.”
Prune ingredients from Sunsweet Growers, Inc. will work in many grain-based foods applications, he said.
“The most obvious use is as an inclusion in bread, pastries, cereals or bars, similar to how raisins or cranberries might be used, but some of the more interesting applications are for fat replacement, sugar reduction, moisture retention and pliability,” he said.
Since Sunsweet’s prune ingredients are subjected to heat in the dehydrating process, no further degrading of nutritional aspects occurs during normal bakery applications, he said.
Sweet potatoes for vitamin A
Vitamin A (beta-carotene) content is a key attribute for Carolina Original cloudy sweet potato juice concentrate from Carolina Innovative Food Ingredients, Nashville, N.C. The ingredient on average offers about 5,000 International Units of vitamin A per 100 grams, said John Kimber, chief operating officer.
An acidified version of the sweet potato juice concentrate works well in chemically leavened systems for muffins, cookies and crackers, he said. A non-acidified version will work in those same applications as well as yeast-leavened bread, with the exception of sourdough bread.
A Carolina Clear clarified sweet potato juice concentrate imparts a more neutral flavor and color impact compared to Carolina Original, he said.
Carolina Craft sweet potato flour has 26 grams of fiber per 100 grams. The actual fiber level in the finished baked good would be dependent upon the rate of inclusion, Mr.
Sweet potatoes contain vitamins A, C and B6, and they have antioxidant properties, according to North Carolina State University, Raleigh, N.C. Mr. Kimber said a consumer survey conducted by North Carolina State University showed 95% of consumers think of sweet potatoes as a healthy food, and 80% would be interested in purchasing products made with
“Sweet potatoes (in all forms) have a positive health aura as well as a great nutritional story,” Mr. Kimber said. “Further, their notable inclusion in a product is of interest to consumers. However, short of completing recipe development and nutrient analysis for a baked item, it is difficult to predict the claimable vegetable servings.”