05.11.2018 change 05.11.2018

Researcher: Health-enhancing aspect of food is becoming more important

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Buttermilk with mulberry, chocolate with probiotics and prebiotics, or chocolate-covered candy with stevia - these are some examples of functional, pro-health food developed by scientists from Poznań University of Life Sciences.

Today, food is not only a product that nourishes us, its health-enhancing aspect is also very important, emphasizes Prof. Anna Gramza-Michałowska, head of Department of Gastronomy Sciences and Functional Food Technology, Poznań University of Life Sciences.

"Conscious consumer realizes that a treatment process itself may be supported by prophylaxis, or consumption of products that will help prevent selected diseases or physiological states. Products that will help us live longer and stay in shape" - she says.

Researchers from her department develop recipes and technologies for the production of functional and pro-health food - one that can be an important component of a diet with high nutritional value and pro-health values.

To design functional foods, they use the high antioxidant and pro-health potential of bioactive plant ingredients, confirmed by the results of many years of research. They use ingredients of yellow tea, mulberry, rosemary, flax, chokeberry, kale or stevia, which give the resulting products health-promoting properties.

"It was possible to launch these products in cooperation with enterprises eager to buy and implement such technologies" - adds Gramza-Michałowska.

Researchers have developed more than 64 innovative technologies for health-promoting food products that can be helpful in preventing problems such as obesity, diabetes or cardiovascular disease.

Their portfolio includes dairy products, various types of bread, sweets, cereal bars, meat pastes and processed fruit and vegetables. They have developed many products for diabetics, in which they used mulberry leaves or extracts that reduce the level of glucose in the blood.

"We have used it in many products, including buttermilk, various types of pastries and breads. We also produced crispbread with the addition of mulberry and yellow tea, which lowers blood pressure and has strong antioxidant properties, allowing to reduce the level of free radicals in the body" - explains Gramza-Michałowska.

Poznań researchers have also developed production method of pro-health chocolate with addition of prebiotics, probiotics and mulberries. In turn, in their chocolate-covered candy they use stevia, a sugar substitute ideally suited for use in confectionery products.

"The health-promoting effect itself is quite high, because we have noted a low glyceamic index of this product, and most importantly - all of our products have very good sensory qualities, meaning that they will taste good" - emphasises the researcher.

When designing food with health-promoting plant ingredients, the scientists first determine for whom the product is intended, and which bioactive additives can be used in it. The research process begins with a large-scale analysis of the chemical composition of ingredients. Then, they develop the recipe, production technology and functional properties of the product.

"Finally - before the product is offered to consumers - we conduct large-scale sensory analyses that give us a picture of whether the product will be accepted by consumers, whether they will like its colour, taste and smell and whether the market will buy it" - explains Prof. Gramza-Michałowska.

Professor Anna Gramza-Michałowska emphasizes that consumers in the 21st century are very well educated and pay attention to what they eat. Considering the development of the functional food market in recent years, she suggests that in the future customers will require products of increasingly high nutritional value and pro-health properties.

"The development of the functional food market will result in the consumers buying products that will be prophylactic and protect them against diseases, but also help them live for many years in a very good condition" - concludes the researcher from Poznań University of Life Sciences.

PAP - Science in Poland, Kamil Szubański

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