Formulating snack bars with micro-sized flakes of lentils may boost the folate content of the finished product by 10 per cent, says a new study from Canada.
Compared to an oat-based snack bar, the lentil-based bar also had higher levels of fibre, protein and iron, according to findings published in Food Research International.
The humble lentil has been somewhat overlooked by many food manufacturers. According to the FAO, “[the lentil] has practically no anti-nutritional factors except for ingredients which cause flatulence but which are easily tolerated, particularly in the extreme conditions in which it is usually an essential foodstuff”.
Moreover, the crop is not affected by pests or diseases, and “in actual fact, growers are concerned only with prices, imports and marketing”, says the FAO.
Led by Donna Ryland from the Department of Human Nutritional Sciences at the University of Manitoba, the new research looked at the nutritional profile and acceptability of a range of lentil-containing snack bars.
“The nutritional benefits of lentils cannot be realized unless the developed product is liked by consumers,” explained the researchers. “Measuring the acceptability of the snack bar in terms of attributes is critical for optimizing the sensory characteristics, particularly taste.”
Lentil snack bars, with and without dried cranberries, were formulated and compared to commercial oat-based snack bars. “The development of a nutritious acceptable snack bar made from micronized flaked lentils followed the process from concept to final formulation,” explained Ryland and her co-workers.
Results showed that, while energy and total carbohydrate levels were similar between the lentil/oat bars, the fat content of the lentil bars was less.
“The most striking difference was the folate content where the lentil bars contained about 6 to 9 times more of the nutrient. The amount of folate in one 30 g snack bar would provide 8 to 10 per cent of the recommended daily amount of 400 mircograms for adults,” they said.
A panel of 62 consumers tested the products with the highest acceptability observed for one of the commercial oats bars, and three lentil-containing bars. For all these four samples, the consumers rated them as ‘like slightly’.
Sweetness, the grainy texture and lentil flavours, were amongst the factors with the greatest influence on consumer acceptability, said the researchers.
“Women in particular would benefit from bars containing lentils as they are a good source of folic acid, a nutrient that prevents neural tube defects in newborns, as well as iron, a mineral essential for reducing anemia,” they added.
Snack bar boom
Thanks to the health and organic trends, sales of cereal bars in the EU have experienced average compound annual growth of 7.2 per cent over the last few years, said a report from Global Business Insights. Back in 2007, the company predicted the European market for snack bars to be worth $4bn (€2.7bn).
Source: Food Research International
Volume 43, Issue 2, Pages 642-649
“Development of a nutritious acceptable snack bar using micronized flaked lentils”
Authors: D. Ryland, M. Vaisey-Genser, S.D. Arntfield, L.J. Malcolmson