Infusion technique could produce nutraceutical-enhanced fruit products

By Elaine Watson

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Nutrition

Prebiotic fibers and soy lecithin – rich in phospholipids – can be infused into fruit like blueberries, report scientists from the University of Guelph
Prebiotic fibers and soy lecithin – rich in phospholipids – can be infused into fruit like blueberries, report scientists from the University of Guelph
Scientists in Canada have developed a technique to infuse fruit with nutraceuticals, potentially offering ‘nutritionally superior fruit products’.

Prebiotic fibers and soy lecithin – rich in phospholipids – can be infused into fruit like cherries, mangos and blueberries, report scientists from the University of Guelph. The infused fruit could then be added to food products like cereals and nutrition bars.

“In the present study, we have addressed two major issues facing the fruit sector; (1) continuous availability of high quality fruits year-round, and (2) improving the nutritional quality of fruits after harvest,”​ explained Jissy Jacob and Gopinadhan Paliyath in Food Research International​.

“Not all fruits contain all classes of health-beneficial components. Therefore, if strategies could be developed for enriching fruits with the required nutraceuticals and preserve them for a long duration to ensure year-round availability, it will be helpful to the consumers, growers and the food industry.”

The technique can also be expanded to other nutraceuticals, said Jacob and Paliyath, and they are currently exploring the potential of their technique to infuse vitamins, provitamins, anthocyanins, and flavor components into fruit.

“The present technology provides the basic framework for incorporating a variety of nutritional components into infused fruits to provide an array of fruit products targeted to various food industry sectors.”

Proof of concept

Jacob and Paliyath modified the common method of osmotic dehydration of fruits with sucrose by partially replace sucrose with the prebiotic fructo-oligosacharide (Nutraflora, GTC Nutrition).

Their results showed that sweet cherry, mango and blueberry showed “improved quality characteristics”​ after infusion.

Indeed, cherries infused with a mix of sucrose, NutraFlora, wine polyphenols and lecithin were more flavorful and did not shrink as much as untreated cherries.

The antioxidant activity of the infused fruit was also shown to be similar to that of the fresh fruit, a results that suggestsed that the infusion process did not impair the antioxidant activity.

“The present protocol for infusion needs further refinement in terms of the technology,”​ said the Guelph-based scientists.

“The infusion is best achieved in fruits that have cut areas exposed as observed in cranberry fruits and in mango segments. Physical barriers such as cuticle and skin tend to reduce the infiltration even in [individually quick frozen] fruits.”

Source: Food Research International
January 2012, Volume 45, Issue 1, Pages 93-102
“Infusion of fruits with nutraceuticals and health regulatory components for enhanced functionality”
Authors: J.K. Jacob, G. Paliyath

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