Cranberries: A Healthy Ingredient

Historically, the cranberry native to North America (Vaccinium macrocarpon) has been used as a food and medicine. A presentation given atPrepared Foods’ 2007 R&D Applications Seminar focused on the properties, uses and new cranberry ingredients on the market.

Cranberries contain phenolic compounds that are secondary metabolites in plants and function to protect the plant against biological and environmental stresses. Cranberry phenolics include phenolic acids, flavonoids, anthocyanins and proanthocyanidins (PACs), which are the key phytochemicals in cranberries. Cranberry phenolics function in human nutrition as antioxidants and antimicrobials.

One proposed mechanism of actions that has been published in literature is that the fruit helps prevent bacteria (typicallyE. coli) from sticking to the urinary tract due to the anti-adhesion properties of PACs. More recently, it has been found that cranberries inhibit the growth ofListeria monocytogenes,Helicobacter pyloriandVibrio parahaemolyticus.

L. monocytogenes, a gram-positive, acid-tolerant bacteria living in decaying vegetables, fresh and processed meats, raw milk and slaughter houses, can enter equipment and foods and cause outbreaks. A synergistic blend of cranberry and oregano powders was shown to inhibitL. monoin fish slices.

H. pyloriis gram-negative, acid-tolerant, lives in the gastrointestinal tract and can lead to gastrointestinal diseases, ulcers and cancer. A blend of cranberry, blueberry and grapeseed powders was shown to significantly inhibitH. pylorisynergistically when compared to the action of the individual powders.

V. parahaemolyticusis a gram-negative halophilic bacteria associated with raw or improperly cooked fish and shellfish. Infections can cause diarrhea, vomiting and abdominal cramps. Inhibition of the bacteria was shown when using the same synergistic blend of cranberry and oregano powders in various food systems.

A direct relationship exists between chronic diseases and a lack of antioxidants in the diet. Antioxidants in cranberries promote optimum physiological conditions in the human body. The cranberry is higher in phenolic compounds than many other fruits. Cranberries were also identified to have a prebiotic effect onLactobacillus spp.andBifidobacterium spp. Cranberry seed oil also is known to have one of the highest botanical sources of omega-3 fatty acids, as well as tocotrienols. Cranberries’ products have a wide range of applications and health effects.

  “Cranberries (Vaccinium macrocarpon): A Healthy Ingredient,” Reza Ghaedian, vice president of science and technology,,
-- Summary by Elizabeth Mannie, Contributing Editor

Use of Palm Oil in Baking and Foodservice

The functions of oil in bakery products are numerous and include lubricity, structure, aeration, eating quality, shelflife, dispersion of ingredients and nutritional enhancement. Producing the desired effect in the bakery product depends on the fat’s molecular composition, solid fat content and the crystal characteristics.

All-purpose shortenings are traditionally a blend of partially hydrogenated oil (liquid), fully hydrogenated beta prime fat and functional emulsifiers containing various levels of trans fat. Palm oil shortenings are good candidates for bakery shortenings when trying to reduce or eliminate trans fat from a formula.

Palm oil has naturally occurring, functional saturated triglycerides in a beta prime composition, providing increased creaming performance, smooth consistency and a fine crystal structure. Palm oil’s absence of linolenic acid favors oxidative stability and no flavor reversion. Palm oils can be used in functional no-trans shortenings with tailor-made melting points and solid fat contents through blending. The beta prime crystal structure and oxidative stability are important bakery shortening performance criteria.

Cakes require a plastic shortening with beta prime crystal structure and ease of blending and incorporation. Aeration, where air is entrapped in the shortening matrix, is achieved through the proper ratio of liquid fat (entraps air) and solid fat (stabilizes air).

In cookies, fat is a major component, and functionality is critical. Fat in cookies reduces gluten network formation and reduces water uptake to prevent stickiness, shortens texture to provide brittleness and contributes to flavor.

Donuts require frying fat that is resistant to oxidation, with a proper plasticity, or ratio of solid to liquid fat. The fat must have the proper texture to adhere sugar, yet allow minimal oil migration after packaging. 

Palm oil can provide these required properties for cakes, cookies, donuts and icings -- cost effectively. Palm oil can also be used for lamination in puff pastry, croissant, Danish and pie dough applications. The ability to form a continuous layer between dough layers is necessary and maintains texture through processing. Palm oil exhibits the required characteristics for all of these baked goods.

For shortenings with lower saturates, palm hardstock can be blended with liquid oil, such as canola or sunflower, to achieve different compositions, melt points and solid fat content.

“Use of Palm Oil in Baking and Foodservice,” Harold Kazier, application and technical services manager, Loders Croklaan,,
 -- Summary by Elizabeth Mannie, Contributing Editor

Naturally Stabilized Omega-3 Flax System

Unique attributes of the alpha linolenic acid (ALA) from flaxseed are its anti-inflammatory effects, ability to reduce ventricular fibrillation and beneficial effects on skin and hair. Marine-source omega-3 fatty acid DHA is important for brain, eye and nerve development in infants and maintaining cardiovascular function.

The omega-3 found in flaxseed is a great ingredient for healthier foods and stronger health claims. The omega-6 to omega-3 ratio in the U.S. diet is typically 20-30 to one. However, the recommended ratio ranges from 4-10 to one. This has likely led to increased risk of cardiovascular disease and inflammation. Flaxseed is high in omega-3, contributing to a healthier ratio when used in the diet.

Flaxseed with ALA omega-3 can have a two-year shelflife at ambient temperature, contributes a mild, nutty taste and provides not only ALA omega-3, but also antioxidants, dietary fiber and protein.

A proprietary milled flaxseed and fish oil blend contains all three forms of omega-3 (ALA, EPA and DHA). This blend is a dry, free-flowing powder with a one-year ambient shelflife, and the company claims there is no fishy odor when toasting it, or a “burp back” flavor after it has been consumed. 

When formulating with ALA omega-3 from flaxseed, labeling strategies can include nutrient content claims for fiber when using the whole-grain approach. Additionally, structure/function claims for omega-3s and antioxidants focusing on women’s health are also possible. Examples of structure/function claims for ALA omega-3 include “ALA omega-3 from flaxseed supports cardiovascular health” or “ALA omega-3 from flaxseed supports overall health.”

Stabilized blends between 2-8% fish oil in flaxseed can provide 270-280mg ALA and 9.9-36mg DHA and EPA combined. These amounts allow foods to carry the qualified heart health claim for EPA and DHA; an excellent source claim for ALA or, at higher fish oil percentages, for all omega-3s; and also for the structure/function claim for ALA. 

When using flaxseed or a flaxseed/fish oil blend in a bakery formula, the formula water should be increased by 75% of the weight of the flaxseed used. Yeast should be increased by 15%, and flaxseed plus the flaxseed/fish oil blend will increase browning in baked goods requiring oven temperature adjustments.

/I> “Naturally Stabilized Omega-3 Flax System,” Mary Ekman, general manager, Pizzey’s Milling Co., USA,
 -- Summary by Elizabeth Mannie, Contributing Editor

Gluten-free Products Using Modified Tapioca Starch

High-quality, gluten-free products are in high demand. A specially modified tapioca starch can enhance quality in gluten-free products.

For the purposes of this article, “gluten-free” is defined as not containing gluten from wheat, oats, rye or barley. Celiac disease affects one in 133 Americans, and they are committed to a gluten-free diet for life. There are 15 million gluten-intolerant individuals, in addition to seven million more who have wheat allergies and avoid gluten.

The properties that one modified tapioca starch is able to offer gluten-free bakery products are improved taste, texture, appearance and shelflife. It produces structures and textures that resemble wheat-based products. Using this modified tapioca starch can reduce the amount of gums used and complement alternative flours in gluten-free baking.

Because of its modification, the tapioca starch has unique expansion properties when used in baked and fried bakery items. The amount of expansion varies on the amount used and how the product is made. The ingredient is able to retain moisture to maintain quality throughout the shelflife of the product.

Research has determined the optimum level at which the modified tapioca starch may be used in bread with different flour bases. Findings have shown that to increase expansion in a sorghum flour-based bread recipe, developers should add 1/4 to 1/2 cup of the modified tapioca starch. To increase expansion of rice flour-based bread recipes, they should substitute 3/4 cup rice flour with one cup of the modified tapioca starch. To increase the strength and flexibility of bean flour-based bread recipes, they should add 1/4 to 1/2 cup of the modified starch.

The gluten-free sector is a growth market whose products can be made better. Gluten-free baked goods can have the taste, texture and appearance of wheat-based products by incorporating specialty modified tapioca starch.

“Gluten-free Products Using Modified Tapioca Starch,” Eric Shinsato, technical sales support manager, Corn Products International,,
 -- Summary by Elizabeth Mannie, Contributing Editor