In the past, omega-3 often was passed over because it did not perpetuate an acceptable sensory profile and could not endure extreme processing conditions. However, as science progressed and correlations were made between omega-3 and cardiovascular disease, immune health, cognition and possibly diabetes, it became clear that a form of omega-3 suitable for a wide range of applications was needed.
NOVOMEGA™, a product of Omega Protein's (Houston) OmegaPure® and National Starch Food Innovation (NSFI, Bridgewater, N.J.), is an encapsulated long-chain omega-3 fatty acid in powder form. NOVOMEGA utilizes OmegaPure, a natural product, and the only marine source of essential long-chain omega-3 fatty acids directly affirmed by the FDA as a GRAS food ingredient for direct human consumption.
“This is a new market for long-chain omega-3s,” says Lucia Ponginebbi, a technical manager at National Starch Food Innovation. “Although flax contains another form of omega-3 (ALA), which has been incorporated into breads for years, flax-based omega-3 is less potent when it comes to impacting health.” Flax does not qualify for a Qualified Health Claim from the FDA, as does omega-3. Marine-derived omega-3 also carries endorsements from the American Heart Association (Dallas) and the Department of Health and Human Services (Washington).
Additionally, two servings (four slices) of bread per day made with the product contain roughly the same amount of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids as many popular fish dishes. OmegaPure is highly refined and consumers do not have to be concerned about pollution because it contains no mercury or other toxins, says Natalie Morawsky, senior director, Food Emulsions and Targeted Delivery (FE&TD), a strategic business unit within NSFI. FE&TD develops and markets advanced systems for the encapsulation and controlled release of flavors, nutrients and other active components.
A poor delivery system would break down more rapidly when exposed to heat, light, air and moisture. The result would be rancidity; thus, an off odor and taste. “Taste and aroma are critical for consumer acceptance, so we had to be sure that the product introduces no negative flavors or aromas,” states Ponginebbi.
The omega-3 component in the product is readily released in the body when the encapsulated powder comes in contact with enough moisture. “The matrix is water-dispersible, and this is the main reason we recommend the use of NOVOMEGA in low-moisture foods,” says Ponginebbi. The encapsulated omega-3 powder can easily be added to baked goods without affecting their taste, texture or aroma. The powders require refrigeration.
“A key to our encapsulation is to protect the omega-3s,” says Ponginebbi. “The materials used to encapsulate this valuable and sensitive nutrient are designed to hold up throughout the processing and the shelflife of the product--that is what makes it unique.”