Many ingredient suppliers are stepping up with heart-healthy, weight-management solutions that allow consumers to indulge without the guilt.

Marina Mayer, Executive Editor

These days, maintaining a heart-healthy diet is top of mind for most consumers. Whether it be a routine of vitamins and antioxidants, a clean-label, low-sodium product or protein options that also serve as weight-management tools, many of today’s ingredient suppliers are “keeping it real” through a host of better-for-you introductions.

“Consumers want nutritious, natural, minimally processed foods that pack a huge punch of healthy and an equally impressive dose of delicious,” says Philippe Caillat, senior director of marketing for Solazyme Roquette Nutritionals (SR Nutritionals). “Bakers and snack manufacturers continue to look for innovative ingredients that can help decrease the use of saturated fats, eggs, milk and other high-calorie, high-cholesterol ingredients often found in today’s packaged foods.”

That’s why in January 2012, the South San Francisco, Calif., company will introduce a whole algalin flour that contains 50% healthy lipid with high-oleic content (similar to olive oil), natural phospholipids (similar to eggs), fiber and protein, Caillat adds.

“The truly remarkable characteristic of this ingredient is its ability to function as more fat than it is, making it an outstanding solution for improving nutritional profiles in baked goods and snacks,” he adds. “For example, when formulators use whole algalin flour, they are able to make good-tasting finished products that contain 40-50% less fat without taste compromise. The finished product is significantly reduced in calories, saturated fat and cholesterol and retains exceptional taste, texture and functionality.”

In July 2012, SR Nutritionals will launch a highly digestible whole algalin protein that contains 50% protein along with fiber, healthy lipid, micronutrients and a unique amino acid profile.

“These characteristics combine to offer an innovative new source of vegetable protein that is so much more than just protein,” Caillat adds.

Danisco USA’s PinVita phytosterols help to substantially reduce and control cholesterol, as well as act as a food and dietary supplement that’s suitable for allergen- and GMO-free items. PinVita, which is derived from a sustainable pine source, is available in free or esterified form for bars and other baked goods.

Meanwhile, Danisco’s ActivK range of vitamins K2 MK-7 can be formulated into dietary supplements, come in powder and oil-based formats and are good for bars, bread and other bakery products.

“Both PinVita and ActivK are backed up by a large body of research showing they are effective at improving health,” says Cathy Dorko, industry manager of bakery, fats and oils for Danisco, New Century, Kan. “Both products are extracted from natural sources, but the extraction process and downstream processing may preclude labeling as natural.”

Whey protein is also an excellent source of protein, and is an all-natural solution that also helps to reduce fats in a variety of food applications, says Jeff Banes, applied technology manager for Grande Custom Ingredients Group (GCIG), Lomira, Wis.

For example, the Grande Bravo line of functional whey protein concentrates can be used to reduce the amount of high-fat ingredients, such as butter, eggs, cream cheese, cream and other dairy ingredients in cheesecake, cream/pastry fillings, frostings, cakes, cookies and muffins, Banes adds.

“In a recent kitchen test, Grande Bravo was used to replace 50% of the cream cheese in a cheesecake application. In this trial, calories and fat decreased by 12% and 41%, respectively, while protein was increased by 150%. In a single-serving portion, fat grams were reduced from 17 g. to 10 g., while calories dropped from 227 to 199.  At the same time, protein was increased from 4 g. to 6 g.,” he adds.

Skinny cooks actually can be trusted

Ever hear that saying, “skinny cooks can’t be trusted?” Well, now they can. No longer are consumers left with the unruly task of managing their weight. That’s because many of today’s ingredient solutions do that automatically. So says Corn Products International, Inc./National Starch Food Innovation.

“When it comes to snack crackers and chips, consumers are looking for good-for-you options with better eating sensations and flavors without compromising taste and texture,” says Patrick O’Brien, marketing manager, bakery for Corn Products/National Starch. “They also want better choices in healthy snacks, like reduced-fat, fiber-fortified and whole-grain options-for themselves and their children.”

Corn Products/National Starch’s HOMECRAFT Create 765 is a clean-label, specialty wheat flour derived from a unique variety of waxy wheat that allows for the reduction of costly fat ingredients in indulgent baked goods, says O’Brien.

“HOMECRAFT Create 765 can help improve nutritional profile by reducing total calories, calories from fat and grams of fat per serving,” he adds. “For example, in a standard industry brownie formulation, a 25% reduction in fat led to a decrease in total calories and calories from fat to 6 g. on a 28-g. serving.”

The Westchester, Ill.-based company also helps bakers and snack manufacturers achieve low-fat, low-calorie claims that mimic full-fat, full-calorie counterparts through its Dial-In Texture Technology and Texicon food texture language. Under this technology, consumers can translate what they like and dislike about food texture into scientific attributes. For example, “creamy” is actually a multifaceted texture experience that results from differing intensities of at least 15 sensory and rheology attributes, such as mouth-coating, meltaway and oral viscosity.

However, manufacturers face challenges in developing better-for-you products, which can vary depending upon the nutritional targets and desired finished product, says Cheryl Borders, technical service, edible beans for Archer Daniels Midland Co. (ADM), Decatur, Ill. That’s why ADM developed VegeFull, a line of cooked ground bean powders used in extruded and sheeted snacks, crackers, cookies, nutritional bars, tortillas and baked goods. This clean-label powder is also minimally processed using a solvent-free approach, making it an ideal solution to maintaining a healthy weight and preventing obesity, diabetes and heart disease.

“ADM’s VegeFull line of cooked ground bean powders and ingredients can be incorporated into snacks and baked goods to provide several better-for-you choices,” Borders says. “Compared to traditional cereal grains, beans contain more protein and fiber. Protein and fiber can help in slowing digestion and providing energy over a longer period of time, which may help in reducing overall caloric intake and in weight management.”

Walnuts are also a recommended weight-management aid, as they are said to be a good source of antioxidants, vitamins, fiber and protein, according to Jennifer Getz Olmstead, marketing director, domestic for the California Walnut Board and California Walnut Commission, Folsom, Calif.

“[Walnuts are] the only nut that provides a significant amount of the plant-based Omega 3 fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid (ALA),” she adds. “Walnuts can help in weight management. Due to their delicious flavor and satiating effect, individuals who consume walnuts regularly do not exhibit weight gain and report feeling content.”

Plus, the American Heart Association, Dallas, recently announced its certification of walnuts as a heart-healthy food that can easily be identified with the heart-check mark, says Getz Olmstead. “The heart-check mark identifies foods that meet the nutritional standards set by the American Heart Association and provides consumers a quick and reliable way to identify heart-healthy foods,” she adds.

When it comes to snacking, almonds are said to be a consumer favorite, according to Harbinder Maan, manager, North America ingredient and category marketing for the Almond Board of California. In fact, the Modesto, Calif., company “works with research chefs to develop and maintain an extensive database of almond recipe solutions for almost any product formulation, particularly in the key categories of cereal, snacking and chocolate,” Maan adds.

Case in point: A 1-oz. portion of almonds provides 6 g. of protein, 13 g. of fat, only 1 g. of saturated fat and 3.5 g. of fiber-elements that are known to give people that “full” feeling they crave, she notes.

Thankfully, the future is bright for products that offer heart-healthy and weight-management benefits, such as those items rich in whole grains and fiber, says Brian Sorenson, director of manufacturing operations for Dakota Specialty Milling Inc., Fargo, N.D.

“There is a continuous stream of reports of nutritional studies that inform the consumer of the health benefits of a diet rich in whole grains and high in fiber,” he adds. “The development of countless new products in this segment reflects the commitment of food companies in providing healthy products, not only in the retail grocery, but also for restaurant, foodservice, military and school lunch programs.” 

Regardless if it’s a sweet and savory snack or a succulent slice of cheesecake, many of today’s ingredient offerings deliver that heart-healthy, weight management solution consumers crave to stay fit without sacrificing foods they love.  SF&WB