Nutritional ingredients used today promote anti-aging, cardiovascular health, cognitive function, glucose control, immune support, joint health, women’s health, men’s health, sports nutrition and recovery, urinary tract health, UV protection, vision health and weight-loss properties. Here are some examples.

  • Vitamin K. Natto is particularly rich in menaquinone-7, a highly bioavailable form of vitamin K2, which is linked to greater bone health. K2 can also provide significant benefit to cardiovascular health due—in part—to the inhibition of vascular calcification. Child bone health studies show the requirement of vitamin K is higher in children, because young bones are highly active.

  • Grape seed extract. One specialized grape seed extract protects blood serum components against oxidation. Studies show it has greater antioxidant capacity than vitamin C, vitamin E or b-carotene and may help reduce high blood pressure and excessive blood clotting.

  • Melon extract and gliadin. Melon extract with gliadin (a wheat protein) is a natural vegetarian source of superoxide dismutase (SOD). SOD is a compound produced by the body to protect against free radicals and other agents that cause premature aging or eventual cell death. Natural production of SOD diminishes over time, and the melon extract stimulates production to boost the immune system. It currently has patent protection and strong clinical support.

  • Co-enzyme Q10. This compound is an antioxidant-rich substance vital to energy production. Clinical support for co-enzyme Q10 includes a reduction in risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, cancer, aging, HIV, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease and periodontal disease.

  • Pomegranate extract. Pomegranate extract can outperform alternatives, such as a leading pomegranate juice, due to its higher overall phenolic content, lack of sugar, carbs, calories, and potential allergens found in juice. Pomegranate extract shows evidence of cardio and prostate health benefits.

  • Açai extract. Açai is a nutritionally rich, tropical fruit native to the Amazon that is high in antioxidants, amino acids, omega-3s and is a good source of fiber. Health applications include headache/cold remedy, cardiovascular maintenance, energy booster and as a management aid.

  • Green tea extract. One proprietary green tea extract can be standardized to either polyphenols or epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), which is the most abundant catechin in tea and linked to cancer and heart disease prevention.

     Many more botanical ingredients with health benefits are available, including extracts of apple, apricot, nectarine, bayberry, black currant, blueberry leaves, brown seaweed, Echinacea, fig, green coffee, mango, olive leaf, pomegranate seed, prune, red marine algae and Rhodiola rosea.

    “Ingredients for Healthy Heart and Bones,” Rodger Jonas, national business development manager, P.L.Thomas,,

    —Summary by Elizabeth Mannie, Contributing Editor

    Innovative Fortification with Lycopene

    Lycopene is a carotenoid imparting the red color to tomatoes, guava, watermelon, pink grapefruit and other red fruits. Lycopene is also an antioxidant that may help lower the risk of certain degenerative diseases, including cancer and cardiovascular disease.

    In addition to lycopene, the extract contains other powerful antioxidants, including phytoene and phytofluene, which protect cells from damage by free radicals, contributing to a broad spectrum of health benefits.

    One tomato extract with lycopene is 100% natural and derived from non-GMO tomatoes. It is stable to elevated temperatures typical of food processing and suitable for a wide range of pH values, allowing it to be used in dairy and beverage categories. Tomato extract with lycopene is stable in the presence of ascorbic acid, which benefits beverages, jams and fruit preparations where anthocyanins are degraded.

    Another ingredient, tomato pulp that is standardized to contain 1,500ppm lycopene, contains low tomato flavor, low acidity and is low in sugar. It is used to enhance tomato-based products and intensify their color. Tomato pulp containing lycopene can be pumped through processing lines and easily introduced in a production routine.

    In comparison to regular tomato paste, tomato pulp containing lycopene has a milder flavor, contains less sugar and more fiber, features a lower acidity and has three to five times more lycopene. While tomato paste is typically only used in tomato-based products because of its dominant tomato flavor, tomato pulp containing lycopene has a neutral flavor, allowing it to be used in a wide range of food formulations.

    Tomato “raisins” containing lycopene are a new concept. These are self-dehydrated tomatoes that take on the look of raisins. They dry rapidly, and each raisin contains more than 1mg of tomato lycopene and other tomato phytonutrients. 

    Through a process that separates the flavor-enhancing components from tomatoes, two ingredients have been introduced: clear tomato concentrate and spray-dried, clear tomato concentrate. These ingredients enhance flavor and salty taste in foods, helping reduce sodium in savory products. The flavor-enhancing effect of the tomato is the secret of ketchup, soups, sauces, pizzas and many other food formulations.

    “Innovative Food Fortification with Natural Tomato Extract Containing Lycopene,” Zohar Nir, Ph.D., vice president, new product development and scientific affairs, LycoRed,,  

    —Summary by Elizabeth Mannie, Contributing Editor

    Sugar Reduction: Moving Beyond Confections

    Why sugar-free, reduced-sugar and no-sugar-added products? Because 84% of Americans (128 million people) are overweight, 30% of U.S. adults ages 20 and over (60-plus million people) are obese, and 16% of American children (over 9 million young people) ages eight to 19 are overweight.

    Diabetes affects over 20.8 million Americans. While 14.6 million Americans have been diagnosed with some form of diabetes, another 6.2 million do not even know they have it. Obesity has long been recognized as a cause for type 2 diabetes, but scientists now say that the disease may be a factor in accelerated type 1 diabetes in some children.

    While childhood obesity and diabetes are increasing, there is also a greater overall awareness of health and nutrition. The 2005 dietary guidelines for Americans called for lower sugar and calories and more fiber. This resulted in an increased number of products available, mass media attention, sugar reduction in school lunch programs and advances in sweeteners making sugar-free products taste good.

    Polyols are one solution in producing good-tasting, reduced-sugar products. Polyols are low-digestible carbohydrates (LDCs). Examples of LDCs are sugar alcohols; oligosaccharides like polydextrose or fructo-oligosaccharides; polysaccharides like pectin, inulin or celluloses; resistant starches; and rare sugars like tagatose, trehalose or isomaltulose. The majority of polyols occur readily in nature, but industry production consists of hydrogenation or enzymatic conversion of different aldoses and ketones.

    Polyols are metabolized differently than traditional sugars or carbohydrates. They are nutritive sweeteners that provide the bulk of sugar where high-potency sweeteners do not. They make an excellent one-to-one replacement for sugar.

    Available polyols include monosaccharides such as sorbitol, mannitol, xylitol and erythritol; disaccharides such as maltitol, lactitol and isomalt; and mixtures such as maltitol syrups and polyglycitols for replacement of polysaccharides and corn syrups.

    Polyols fit into many food categories well, including baked goods, dairy, confections, toppings, fillings, variegates and icings. When formulating with polyols, important properties to consider are their caloric value, glycemic properties, cariogenicity, solubility, relative sweetness, physical form and non-browning characteristics. Other important characteristics include heat of solution, stability, melting point, molecular weight, Tg, functionality, laxative properties, regulatory status, consumer reaction, cost and availability.

    “Sugar-free, Reduced-sugar and No-sugar-added: Expanding Beyond Confections,” Rick Francolino, food scientist, Corn Products Specialty Ingredients, rick.francolino@,

    —Summary by Elizabeth Mannie, Contributing Editor

    Sugar-free Grained Mints

    “Grained” mints are aerated, grained and hard-boiled confections, also known as “after dinner mints.” They are traditionally sucrose-based and sometimes combined with fat (butter mints). Their texture should be hard, but tender and friable. Graining is the term used in confectionery to describe crystallization. In soft candies, more graining gives shorter texture (less chewy), and in hard candies, more graining tends to soften the texture. Very fine crystals are required to obtain smooth mouthfeel and are usually provided by controlled crystallization of sucrose. Grained sweets are typically difficult to make consistently because of the need to control the crystallization conditions. Grained sweets can be especially difficult to make in sugar-free products.

    Moisture pick-up in humid and warm environments helps drive the transformation from aerated amorphous glass to an aerated crystalline (grained) candy. If the chamber is too humid or too hot, moisture pick-up can become excessive, and individual pieces will to stick together and lose their shape. If the humidity and/or heat are not high enough, the graining process will be too slow.

    Seeding is an option where small amounts of a fine saccharide powder (<100µ) are added to the cooled mass before the pulling stage to speed crystallization. The seeding material must be the same as the predominant saccharide used in the candy mass (in some cases, a fondant can be used.) Added amounts range from 0.1-3% of the total dry matter. Something to remember is that seeding is not crucial, but it can speed the process.

    Most confectionery products can be made sugar-free using sugar alcohols (i.e., polyols). Sugar-free, aerated grained mints can be successfully manufactured using a patented process that allows disaccharide polyols to be processed on conventional equipment. Recipes based on high-purity crystalline maltitol were found to produce the best-tasting, sugar-free grained mints. Sugar-free maltitol grained mints bring health benefits over traditional sugar-based mints by being non-cariogenic, delivering about 50% fewer calories and contributing a reduced glycemic response.

    “Development of Sugar-free Grained Mints Using Disaccharide Sugar Alcohols,” Philippe Levresse, Sr., project coordinator-technology/applications development, Roquette America Inc.,, or

    —Summary by Elizabeth Mannie, Contributing Editor

    Co-extruded Acacia Soluble and Wheat Insoluble Fibers

    There is a strong understanding by consumers of the link between dietary fiber and overall health. Some 79% of shoppers agree that fiber reduces risk of obesity, heart disease and cancer. Insulin resistance and diabetes are approaching epidemic status, with over 150 million diabetics globally; this number is forecasted to double by 2025. Nevertheless, fiber consumption has decreased to 10-20g per day in Western countries. Nutritionists recommend fiber intake of 25-30g per day, with a balanced combination of soluble and insoluble fiber.

    An innovative stabilizer based on two co-processed, all-natural dietary fibers, acacia soluble fiber and wheat insoluble fiber, is completely different from a simple, dry blend of the two components. The insoluble fiber particles are uniformly encapsulated and integrated into the soluble fiber matrix. This fiber combination is cold water-dispersible and develops its viscosity immediately after dissolution in water. It requires no heating or shearing to achieve a unique, smooth texture with a higher viscosity than if the two fibers were added separately.

    This ingredient contains a guaranteed level of 90% dietary fiber on a dry weight basis. It has a caloric value of less than 2Kcal/g, and it is non-cariogenic. The functional benefit of this innovation is its pre-activated, dust-free, instantized pure powder form that is extremely easy to dissolve in cold water—even at high concentrations. It is resilient to most processing conditions like high shear, temperature or pH extremes.

    Wheat insoluble fiber also contains a guaranteed 90% insoluble dietary fiber on a dry weight basis. Wheat fiber increases the speed of transit through the digestive system and thus improves regularity of bowel movements. The wheat fiber used in this innovation is all-natural, GMO-free and gluten-free.

    The ingredient offers thickening, stabilizing, water-binding and fat replacement properties, as well as a mouthfeel agent. Applications include bakery, ice cream, sauce/mayonnaise, meat products and confectionery.

    When used in bread, it reduces staling, improves texture and can help reduce fat content. In pizza dough and pie crust, a 1-2% addition results in softer dough and a crust that is smoother and more aerated when fresh, frozen or microwave cooked.

    “Optimized Combinations of Fibers Used as Nutritional Stabilizers,” Sebastien Baray, technical manager, Colloid Naturels Inc.,,

    —Summary by Elizabeth Mannie, Contributing Editor

    Fiber Functionality in Grain Products

    Dietary fiber is normally the edible part of plants and is a form of carbohydrate that is resistant to digestion and absorption in the human small intestine, with complete or partial fermentation in the large intestine. Traditionally, fibers are classified as either soluble or insoluble.

    Cellulose is one of many polymers found in nature, the building block of all cell walls forming the framework for all plant sources. Insoluble fibers, such as cellulose, increase fecal bulk, reduce hunger, remove undesirables from the metabolism process and provide better bowel movements. Soluble fibers are typically food gums and commonly associated with the physiological benefits of fiber consumption.

    Common commercial fiber ingredients are derived from cereals, gums, fruits and other plant sources. Powdered cellulose is composed of 100% purified cellulose extracted from plant sources. When choosing to use a fiber ingredient, determining one’s objective between fortification and functionality is very important. Whether to use soluble fiber, insoluble fiber or a blend of both are important considerations. There are also marketing and economic concerns, compatibility of choice for specific applications and the physical and chemical properties of the selected fiber.

    Some of the functions of fibers in foods include physical bulking, fiber fortification, binding, thickening, anti-caking, extrusion aid, dimensional stability, fruit/vegetable paste extender, fat reduction in fried foods, texturizing agent, improving cling, controlling syneresis, cryostabilizing and opacifying.

    In bakery applications, cellulose functions to improve volume, increase pliability, enhance texture, improve dough absorption and extend shelflife. It also adds non-calorie bulk, fiber fortification and contributes to low digestible carbohydrate content.

    In fried foods, cellulose improves overall appearance by imparting a lighter, more even color after frying, which is perceived to be less oily or lighter in appearance. It also prevents separation of matrix from coating after frying. Nutritional baked goods enhanced with fibers include healthy muffins, cupcakes, brownies, cookies, pancakes, cereal bars and biscuits. 

    New and current trends and concepts in fiber application technology include using fiber blends vs. a single-source fiber. Economic opportunities exist for fiber ingredients that also are being used for functionality—including physically modified fibers that improve mouthfeel.

    “Functional Fibers for Grain Products,” Jit Ang, executive vice president, research and development, International Fiber Corporation,

    —Summary by Elizabeth Mannie, Contributing Editor

    Properties of an Ingredient for Digestive Health

    Consumers are interested in immune health. According to the International Food Information Council, 76% of Americans believe that certain foods and beverages can maintain overall health and wellness. Immune health benefits can include inhibited pathogen growth, improved colonic microflora and reduced inflammation.

    Prebiotics can enhance the immune system by nourishing the good bacteria or probiotics like Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria. There are approximately three pounds of good and bad bacteria living in the human GI tract, and consumption of prebiotics, such as short-chain fructo-oligosaccharides, can tip the balance in favor of the good bacteria.

    Short-chain fructo-oligosaccharides are derived from cane or beet sugar through an enzymatic reaction. They are resistant to digestion and pass through the mouth, stomach and small intestine intact, acting as a prebiotic in the colon. The ingredients are effective at low inclusion levels, heat-stable, completely soluble and possess a clean, slightly sweet flavor profile (about 30% as sweet as sucrose). They do not contribute to browning through the Maillard Reaction or to viscosity but do increase freezing points.

    If stored at a pH below 4.0, it should be under refrigeration. Due to their hygroscopic nature, prebiotics should be handled in a climate-controlled environment, blended with other powders and added during mixing.

    The compounds are synergistic with high-intensity sweeteners, creating opportunities for lowering the levels of high-intensity sweeteners. In addition, they mask off-notes, enhance flavor, reduce syneresis, improve texture and extend shelflife. Enhanced mouthfeel and creaminess are benefits seen in low-fat or fat-free dairy products containing the ingredients.

    At 1g per serving, claim opportunities in the area of immune health for products containing short-chain fructo-oligosaccharides can include “strengthens the immune system” or “helps build a stronger immune system.” Digestive function and regularity are additional benefits associated with the ingredients. They increase the levels of beneficial gut microflora that produce short-chain fatty acids, allowing for improved digestive health.

    In many applications, this blend can improve stability and texture of baked goods. Other functional benefits are improved crispiness in crackers, extended shelflife, reduced moisture loss in baked goods and flavor enhancement. Some examples of possible claims for digestive health with short-chain fructo-oligosaccharides can include “good or excellent source of fiber,” “improves digestive health” and “increases the level of good bacteria in the digestive system.”

    “Customized Formulations for Improved Immune and Digestive Health,” Cristina Munteanu, food applications specialist, GTC Nutrition,

    —Summary by Elizabeth Mannie, Contributing Editor

    Omega-3 Fortification for Children and Women

    Omega-3 fatty acids have potential health benefits for children in the areas of cardiovascular health, improvement of attention deficit and hyperactivity, childhood depression, fine motor skills, developmental coordination disorder and increased insulin sensitivity. For women, the benefit possibilities include well-documented improvements in cardiovascular health, dry eye syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease, as well as a reduced risk of breast cancer and diabetes.

    The International Society for the Study of Fatty Acids and Lipids recommends 500mg of combined EPA and DHA per day (minimum) for cardiovascular health and 300mg daily for pregnant and lactating women. The Institute of Medicine recommends 160mg as EPA plus DHA, or just DHA per day, allowing for an “excellent source” claim to be made at 32mg or 20% of the recommended daily value per serving.

    The FDA Qualified Health Claim for omega-3 fatty acids states, “Supportive but not conclusive research shows that consumption of EPA and DHA omega-3 fatty acids may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. One serving of (name of food) provides (X) grams of EPA and DHA omega-3 fatty acids. See nutrition information for total fat, saturated fat and cholesterol content.”

    As unsaturated fatty acids, omega-3 fatty acids are likely to oxidize. During oxidation, volatile compounds are produced, and they cause off-odors and flavors. Encapsulated omega-3s are more stable, easier to handle and water-dispersible. In product formulation with omega-3s, low processing temperatures result in less abuse.

    One proprietary, commercial, encapsulated omega-3 is high in DHA and has a long history of use in infant nutrition and foods. With an outer layer of starch and an inner matrix of hydrocolloid, sugar and antioxidants, the active ingredients (omega-3s) are embedded in the matrix of the beadlet and are protected from oxygen and light.

    The powdered ingredient is preferentially used in foods with a high content of dry matter such as baked goods, cereals, pastas, bars and powder-based products like infant formulas, sports, maternal and meal replacement powders. Products with a short shelflife, high fat content and strong flavors are good candidates. Refrigeration greatly extends the shelflife of omega-3-fortified products.

    “Omega-3 Fortification of Products for Children and Women,” John Foley, technical services, BASF Corporation,,

    —Summary by Elizabeth Mannie, Contributing Editor