08 Aug 2016 --- Carbohydrates have long been a staple part of diets all over the world, the sugars and starches which provide nutritional energy for humans when consumed have become both a blessing and a curse. The process of food production in recent times has changed the way in which they may affect the body.
As we know eating a well-balanced, healthy diet is beneficial to the body, however, with the rise in interest of certain “fad” diets such as Atkins and Paleo, (low-carb diets that promote weight loss), consumers are now looking for alternatives to conventional carbs that boast nutritional properties. So why has there been such an influx in alternative carbs? FoodIngredientsFirst takes a look at the evidence.
DuPont Nutrition & Health recently conducted a consumer research study in France, the UK and Germany, and one of the key findings was a clear correlation between artisanal and healthy options in the mind of the consumer. “With 70% of consumers today making a conscious effort to follow a healthy diet, many see bread as being too high in calories, sugar and carbohydrates, but the definition of healthy product varies from market to market,” explains Lena Hamann, Strategic Marketing Manager, EMEA, DuPont Nutrition & Health to FoodIngredientsFirst.
“We have found that the type of carbohydrates we consume will always be more important than the amount. The aim is to reduce the number of non-nutritive ‘empty’ calories to a minimum,” says Hamann.
“Every balanced diet needs a good portion of carbohydrates, that means eating less refined white flour and sugar and more ‘good’ carbs rich in beneficial nutrients,” adds Hamann.
The recommendation of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) is that carbohydrates should account for 45-60% of the total energy intake.
“The recipe is to add more wholegrain,” advises Hamann, “Such as sprouted grains, ancient wheat types or other cereals, including oats and barley. On top of that, industrial bakeries could use some of the ancient grains that have captured our attention, such as chia seeds.”
Hamann said that findings from research suggested that consumer awareness of fibers and ancient grains is extremely high: “Around 80% of consumers claim they are familiar with these. Ancient grains are perceived as naturally beneficial and less processed, hence as a healthier alternative in the mind of the consumer. The most popular ancient grains that are used in product launches globally are chia, millet, buckwheat, quinoa, and spelt, there is an increasing demand for these as consumers look towards healthier carb options,” she explains.
The benefits to consumers in switching to healthier carbs are plentiful. Healthy, high-fiber bread has been proven to support weight management through improved satiety, contributes to a good digestion and helps to protect against certain chronic diseases. A good balance between fast and slowly-digestible carbohydrates influences the glycemic impact of a meal, helping to keep blood sugar levels even.
DuPont Nutrition & Health latest promotion on alternative carbs is designed to help bakers tempt consumers back to supermarket bread shelves, healthy inspiration has led to concepts such as their Nordic Light Thins.
Rich in healthy carbs, Nordic Light Thins targets consumers who are turning their back on traditional wheat bread. Soft and dimpled with a thickness between that of toast bread and tortillas, the thin bread concept contains 50% oats, buckwheat and barley in the flour – Nordic grains that are recognized for their high content of fiber and other important nutrients.
“Thin bread has long been a firm favorite in Sweden and Finland, where consumers treat it as a sandwich bread,” says Jan Charles Hansen, principal bakery application specialist at DuPont. “Nordic Light Thins is made with half the refined wheat flour of standard wheat bread. Among the fiber and nutrients, the concept contains beta-glucan, which helps to reduce high levels of blood cholesterol.”
DuPont Nutrition & Health have also set a new direction for India’s flat bread market with the recent launch of solutions for Indian rotis in packaged format. The new concept of ‘packaged roti’ is inspired from the growing need for convenience food by the Indian household.
“Traditionally, a standard Indian diet consists of 4-10 rotis per day, it is an integral part of Indian cuisine and culture. It is usually prepared in whole wheat flour which is healthy and rich in carbohydrates and fiber. ” Ramesh Jayaram, Sales Director, DuPont Nutrition & Health tells FoodIngredientsFirst.
Whilst the majority of rotis are made at home with a very limited shelf-life, changes in consumer trends mean there has been an increased need to change the way in which rotis are made.
Helping customers to develop products to suit their local tastes, DuPont has launched new concepts for rotis in India which offers convenience, taste and healthful benefits.
“Today, making a home-made roti is a cumbersome process. It is monotonous, time consuming and needs complicated equipment,” says Jayaram. That calls for leading food ingredient players like us to develop solutions that support the needs of the Indian consumer. That is, demand for convenient food.”
“At DuPont Nutrition & Health we have solutions for making a ready-to-eat or ready-to-cook roti that tastes great with long lasting freshness. We have developed exciting concepts keeping in mind the local taste preference, desire for health benefits and consumer handiness. Indian staples in ready-to-eat food formats will be a complete game-changer in the next couple of years,” Jayaram states.
He also notes that convenience is not the only change in developments within Indian markets: “In the last decade, health awareness has increased among urban consumers – one aspect is awareness of lifestyle diseases like diabetes and heart problems, the other aspect is access to safe and hygienic food. Most of us want to eat our local foods in a format that is modern, hygienic and has an enhanced shelf life.”
The comprehensive range comprising of DuPont Danisco bakery enzymes, emulsifiers and hydrocolloids enables manufacturers to improve textural properties of ready-to-eat flat breads.
To cater to the needs of the larger Indian population who are vegetarians, manufacturers also have the flexibility to improve the nutritional profile by fortifying rotis with DuPont Danisco range of functional soy protein without compromising on the taste.
Product development within the carbohydrates sector is certainly making a move towards health. Today’s consumer are becoming increasingly aware of the dangers of an unhealthy diet, the demand for healthier carbs is changing the way consumers shop and eat.
Carbs can be part of a well-balanced diet, especially those made from wholegrains, wheat and fiber. Carbs which promote nutritional benefits associated with lower risks of chronic disease are seemingly more appealing to today’s health conscious consumer. However, consumer lifestyle and availability for the right carbs mean there is stiff competition between convenience and healthy options.
by Elizabeth Kenward
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