Scientists explore potential of functional antioxidant cheese

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Canada

Fortifying cheese curds with polyphenolic compounds such as EGCG from tea may produce cheese products with enhanced nutritional value, indicates new research.

The ability of cheese to retain extracts of green tea or dehydrated cranberry powder differed based on the structure of the polyphenolic compounds in question, but adding at a level of 0.5 mg/mL was found to produce a product with effective free radical-scavenging activity.

“On the basis of these results, we were able to produce milk curds with improved nutraceutical properties,”​ wrote researchers in Food Chemistry.

“Further studies need to be made on the actual consequences in cheese-making, and we furthermore anticipate that this technology could be applied to other dairy products like yogurt or milk shake containing phenolic compounds as functional ingredient.”

Scientists from Sungkyunkwan University in South Korea collaborated with scientists at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and the Institut National de la Recherche Scientifique in Laval, Canada.

Polyphenol interest

Data from Leatherhead Food International (LFI) shows that the world functional antioxidants market is increasing year on year by around 3 per cent, and was valued at US$ 400 million in 2004, and US$ 438 million in 2007. Europe, the US, and Japan account for 90 per cent of this market.

With flavonoids and polyphenols reported to be 45 per cent of this functional antioxidant market, equivalent to almost US$ 200 million, it is no wonder that many companies are already offering such ingredients, including Naturex, Burgundy, Chr. Hansen, DSM, Futureceuticals, Danisco, Indena, Frutarom, Genosa, Natraceutical, Cognis, and ADM.

Formulation details

While a significant body of study has been dedicated to the potential health benefits of consuming polyphenol-rich foods and beverages, and the nutritional properties of cheese have also been researched, the Canadian and Korean scientists note that the combination of “cheese products formulated with bioactive compounds have been relatively scarce”​.

The researchers added a range of polyphenols, including catechin, epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), tannic acid, homovanillic acid, hesperetin and flavones, and natural crude extracts from grape, green tea, and dehydrated cranberry, to cheese curds.

Different polyphenols were retained differently, based on their molecular properties and their water-solubility. In general, the researchers noted that effective free radical-scavenging activity was exhibited at a polyphenol concentration of 0.5 mg/mL.

“The nutritional value of cheese product was improved by adding bioactive phenolic compounds to the cheese curd,”​ wrote the researchers. “These results suggest that we may apply this approach to other dairy products for better quality and functionality of the products.”

Source: Food Chemistry
Volume 124, Issue 4, Pages 1589-1594
“Polyphenolic compounds as functional ingredients in cheese”
Authors: J. Han, M. Britten, D. St-Gelais, C.P. Champagne, P. Fustier, S. Salmieri, M. Lacroix

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