From Superfruits, like aÁai, mangosteen and gooseberry, to the tried-and-true raisin and always reliable blueberry, uses and applications for fruits in health and wellness foods and beverages are endless, and health benefits continue to be documented.

Superfruits -- Antioxidant Fruits and Their Applications

According to DataMonitor, Superfruit product launches over 2007-2008 grew at a rate of 67%. Examples are acai, blueberry, cranberry, goji, grape, mangosteen, noni, pomegranate and sea-buckthorn. The list has also grown to include acerola, bayberry, bilberry, blackcurrant, camu camu, cupuacu, elderberry, guava, gooseberry, lingonberry, lychee and papaya. The following is some information on a few key Superfruits.

Acai is an antioxidant-rich berry that grows wild in the Brazilian Amazon. The size of a small grape with a large seed, acai is considered to be one of the top Superfoods in the world. Acai's Oxygen Radical Absorption Capacity (ORAC) values are very high, and the fruit contains amino acids and essential fatty acids.

Camu camu is a low-growing shrub found throughout the Amazon rainforest. It produces round, light orange-colored fruits about the size of lemons, which contain significant amounts of vitamin C (80-100 times more than an orange). Its uses are in strengthening the immune system; prevention and treatment of flu and cold; and skin care and anti-aging. Camu camu is used in functional beverages, juices, yogurts, desserts and cereal bars.

Goji berry tastes like something between a cherry and a cranberry. The true goji is an 8-10ft tall Himalayan shrub with small, purple-blue flowers and red fruit. Growing wild in central Mongolia and the Himalayan highlands, similar varieties are also cultivated in China. Goji berries have very high ORAC values, when compared with other fruits. "Containing vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and amino acids, the goji fruit is nicknamed ëhappy berry,' because it is said to induce the sense of well-being," added Tony Cantu, senior R&D technologist, iTi Tropicals Inc., during his speech titled, "Superfruits--Antioxidant Fruits and Their Applications," given at Prepared Foods' 2009 R&D Applications Seminar-East. It is a great addition to trail mixes and in cookies. Other applications are juices, sauces, marinades and smoothies.

Mangosteen fruit has a thick, reddish-purple rind when ripe, enclosing five to seven fleshy segments. The flesh has a sweet, creamy, tropical flavor profile, with a touch of peach flavor. Primarily grown in Southeast Asia, it can be cultivated in any tropical climate. Mangosteen does not start producing fruit, until the tree is about 15 years old--an impediment to mass cultivation. The fruit has a high ORAC value, 40 known xanthones, polyphenols, potassium, calcium and B-complex vitamins. The outer shell is hard and contains insect-repelling substances. In Asia, mangosteen is known as the "Queen of Fruits." Applications include beverages, desserts, marinades, salad dressings, sauces, ice creams, yogurts, pie fillings and baked goods.

Pomegranates are grown in Iran (Persia), India, China, Turkey and California. One of the earliest found fruits dating back to 4,000 B.C., the tree was introduced in California in 1769. It grows in semi-arid mild temperature climates. Major nutrients found are polyphenols, tannins and anthocyanins. Pomegranate is easily incorporated into juices, smoothies, sports beverages, syrups, jams, jellies and nutritional supplements. For all of these fruits, the application possibilities are endless.

"Superfruits--Antioxidant Fruits and Their Applications," Tony Cantu, senior R&D technologist, iTi Tropicals Inc.,,
--Summary by Elizabeth Mannie, Contributing Editor

Juice Concentrates Help Daily Fruit and Veggie Intake
Health and wellness continue to be strong drivers in the food and beverage segment. In survey after survey, Americans say they want to eat better, a goal synonymous with eating more fruits and vegetables.

Citing statistics from an annual Web-based survey conducted for the International Food Information Council (IFIC), Steve Hvizdos, vice president of sales,  Vegetable Juices Inc., said it was "revealed that not only are Americans more in tune with their health than ever before, they are making dietary changes to positively impact wellness and future health." His comments were part of his presentation titled, "New Concentrates from Vegetable Juices Inc.: Formulating for Health and Wellness," given at Prepared Foods' 2009 R&D Applications Seminar-East. The survey had 1,000 adult respondents aged 18 and over and was conducted by Cogent Research in 2008; the data was compared to similar studies conducted in 2006 and 2007. Some 67% of respondents said they were making an effort to improve the healthfulness of their diet, which was not that different from 2007, but up 25% from 2006.

The study also revealed those more apt to have made a change to their diet included women; those who consider themselves to have a healthful diet; those whose BMI is in the obese range or who perceive themselves to be overweight or obese; those concerned about their weight; those trying to lose or maintain their weight; and those who are physically active four or more days a week.

In the survey, respondents were asked about the changes they made to improve their health. "Consuming less of a specific food or beverage" was still the most reported action (71% in 2008 vs. 65% in 2007). As a result, omission continues to be the more common way to improve the diet; this is projected to change as the concept of functional foods and Superfoods catches on, stated Hvizdos. In 2007, participants averaged 2.52 servings of fruits and vegetables; this rose slightly to 2.55 servings in 2008. "The fact that only 13% of Americans met their five-a-day fruit and vegetable requirement in 2008 is a formulating opportunity."

Of the benefits mentioned in the survey, more than three fourths of respondents either somewhat or strongly believe specific foods and beverages can improve heart health, improve physical energy or stamina, maintain overall health and wellness, and improve digestive health. Improving mental performance and improving immune system functions also scored very well, with 71% of respondents either somewhat or strongly agreeing that certain foods or beverages can provide these benefits.

To help Americans reach their goals of increasing fruits and vegetables in the diet, formulators can easily incorporate liquid versions into beverages; soups and sauces; dressings, dairy and meat products; and many other prepared foods. However, there is a difference in the quality of concentrate used. Many market offerings use thin-film evaporation, which undergoes high temperatures during processing. This can degrade the juice product's characteristics, said Hvizdos. In contrast, a new industrial line of standard juice concentrates, manufactured by Vegetable Juices Inc. (VJI), obtains its fresh flavor and aromas through a new proprietary processing method; this provides superior sensory and nutritional characteristics, allowing a price premium for the products, which mostly come in a frozen state. "To give you an idea of how they differ in concentration, VJI's new concentrates vary from 12-30∞Brix, depending on the fruit or vegetable. Common, thermally concentrated fruits and vegetables are typically in the range of 40-70∞ Brix," he explained.

Formulators using single-strength juices may find savings using VJI's new concentrates, because they have less water; there is less to ship, lowering costs. But, perhaps their biggest advantage is the ability to be creative and innovate. The concentrates can be reconstituted to single-strength or used in a variety of color-, flavor- and power-packed reductions. "Our standard juice concentrates are optimal for many applications, as they provide superior flavor, luminous color, nutrient retention, clean top-notes and rich bottom-notes," continued Hvizdos.

The concentrates are available in a variety of flavors, such as beet, butternut squash and sweet potato; other custom concentrates include pumpkin, seven-vegetable and mirepoix. For a complete list of concentrates, go to for more information.

"New Concentrates from Vegetable Juices Inc.: Formulating for Health and Wellness," Steve Hvizdos, vice president of sales, Vegetable Juices Inc., 708-924-9500,,
--Summary by Julia M. Gallo-Torres, Managing Editor

Versatility from the Vine
From savory applications to sweet, raisins have it all. In a 2009 R&D Applications Seminar-Chicago titled, "Versatility from the Vine," Carol Borba, innovation manager at Mattson, California Raisin Marketing Board, described the various uses and applications for this most adaptable fruit. From food product design to a raisin flavor palette to R&D points of interest, Borba explored the wonderful world of formulating with raisins.

The five basic tastes--sweet, sour, salty, bitter and umami (savory)--were discussed, and Borba pointed out how combinations of these basics provide balance in both foods and beverages. Raisins' versatility makes it a natural ingredient for all five taste categories.

For savory applications, a snack mix was highlighted which contained 23% smoked raisins. This was "to keep costs down in the mix; bring savory flavor without added seasoning costs; and make use of the water activity of raisins," added Borba. At the same moisture content, she stated, "raisins generally have a lower water activity than other dried fruits, because of their intact skin and fructose-glucose content." This also prevents migration of moisture to or from ingredients in preparations and allows them to be added to recipes, without concern for adding unneeded moisture.

In sweet applications, raisins can be coated with many "contemporary"-flavored coatings, says Borba, who highlighted a "PB&J"-coated raisin product. As a point of interest, she noted raisins' nutrition information, per 100g, as follows: 3.3mg ascorbic acid/vitamin C; 8.0 IU vitamin A; 29mg calcium; 751mg potassium; and 2mg iron.

Sour applications for raisins include gummies, which use 20% raisin paste for visual addition of fruit pulp; a natural fiber addition; and for the marketing claim, "made from real fruit," rather than simply fruit juice. Raisin juice can be used in a sugar-added version of the gummies, as well.

Parmesan Herb Crisps were a product that showcased raisins' salty side. A cross between a sweet and savory snack, they used 8.5% Zante currants, which were useful for piece size and as a texture variation.

Raisin paste makes an excellent addition for steak sauce, claimed Borba, with a 4% usage level. It is used for sauce body and cling, with no added starch or gum for thickening needed. It also adds a sweet/sour flavor with natural color addition. "Raisins have a great emulsifying quality in vinaigrettes and other preparations," said Borba, and they can also create a firm texture.

Other applications featured included peanut butter and "jelly" cookies, which actually used grape-flavored raisin paste filling (90.5% raisin paste, 9% raisin juice concentrate and 0.5% grape flavor). Raisins also act as a fat replacer in baked goods, without the addition of significant amounts of water, and they offer pleasant chewiness in a wide range of products, Borba opined. They function well in fat-free baked goods, cookies and cakes. Because they are typically free from large sugar crystals, they are also not gritty.

Raisins also have the ability for "serving of fruit" claims, as .25-cup of raisins equals one serving of fruit, making school lunch programs and snacks natural places to serve raisins. In fact, said Borba, in an 18-week study, "one serving a day of raisins helped lower LDL cholesterol and its oxidation in people with high LDL levels." The fruit is also a top source of antioxidants, with 3,037 ORAC units in 3.5oz. It delivers potassium and dietary fiber, including inulin, to promote digestive health.

California Raisins make up almost 50% of the world's raisins, with about 340,000 tons of average production per year. They are solar-processed; no chemical sprays are used; they have a small carbon footprint; and most growers consist of small family farms that have been in business for generations.

Raisins are also low in sodium and naturally fat- and cholesterol-free. They make excellent additions to the growing ethnic foods market, as well.

"Versatility from the Vine," Carol Borba, innovation manager at Mattson, California Raisins Marketing Board, 650-574-8824,; Rick O'Fallon, director of marketing, 559-248-0287,
--Summary by Barbara T. Nessinger, Associate Editor

Recipe: Blueberry Biscuit Sticks
For a small, bite-sized treat that is easy to store and carry; simple to make in quantity; and ready to eat and serve, try this Blueberry Biscuit Sticks recipe, courtesy of the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council. The biscuits' appeal is more than just the homey familiarity of a comfort food; it also satisfies the current need for portable, satisfying foods that can be eaten on-the-go. The user-friendly shape makes them easy to handle and incorporate in a quick breakfast, desk lunch or busy-schedule snack. And, of course, they have the universal appeal of lusciously delicious blueberries, which, according to a recent "Gallup Study of Fruit," are one of the top 10 fruits consumers perceive as most nutritious. Also, according to the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council, blueberries are low in calories and a rich source of vitamin C, potassium and fiber. They also contain plant chemicals that may help prevent some forms of cancer, heart disease, urinary tract infections and improve vision.

With just a few simple ingredients, this chewy snack treat offers a mouthful of blueberry flavor. Cut biscuits into long and slender rectangles or square tiles, for blueberry fingers and knobby toes. Their only disadvantage is their rapid disappearance from the cookie jar. U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council, Thomas J. Payne Market Development,  pf