Sensory optimisation must be matched by nutritional boosts: Review

By Nathan Gray

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Nutrition

The food industry’s focus of optimising the sensory characteristics of foods must be matched by an optimisation of nutrition, according to a new review.

Advances in the incorporation, stabilisation and delivery of bioactive molecules in ‘common foods’ must also allow for such molecules to be bioaccessible and bioavailable, and this depends on an advanced understanding of the food matrix.

“More than ever, it is essential that all the knowledge on food conception, formulation and processing is wisely exploited to develop foods that will provide a healthy lifestyle​,” wrote Professor Sylvie Turgeon from Laval University, Canada and her co-authors in Food Hydrocolloids.

In their timely review, the Canadian scientists report that several original approaches have emerged to bring together scientists from fields including food science, nutrition and physiology. By bringing these fields together science can provide “enlightening new perspectives to the development of delicious and nutritional foods,” ​said the reviewers.

“The food industry has developed skills to control processes to optimize sensory properties …this knowledge now needs to be extended to ​[optimise] the nutritional properties,”​ they added.

Shifting demand

Turgeon and colleagues noted that consumer demands are shifting towards a need for convenient yet nutritious foods.

They said that the improvement of processed food products, in order to achieve such goals can be achieved in several ways, including incorporating bioactive components in standard foods, reformulating standard food composition to withdraw some less nutritive or even deleterious compounds (such as industrial trans fatty acids, salt, fast sugar, etc.), or by developing new foods with healthier constituents.

“The need to develop nutritious foods and functional foods has brought the entire industry to reconsider every aspect of their food processing to evaluate the health benefits of food,” ​said the authors.

They explained that the rapid development of functional foods has encouraged the food industry “to evaluate and revise the composition of their processed foods as well as their processing conditions and methods to improve nutritional and health effects.

“The question is whether or not the processes and the composition of traditional foods are carefully balanced to ensure the optimal nutritional properties,” ​said Turgeon and co-workers.

Other considerations

Turgeon and colleagues explained that the nutritional evaluation of food has been, “and is still, largely based on the respective quantities of each nutritive constituent such as protein, lipids, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals.”

They said that such evaluation is usually performed by nutrition experts, based on individual nutrient contents. “However, the potential effect of the food matrix on the nutritional properties is seldom considered,”​ they​argued.

Turgeon and colleagues noted that food structure affects the rate and extent of digestion and the rate of absorption of nutrients, adding that processing is therefore an important factor in determining the nutritional value of a food.

The researchers said that there is a possible unresolved link between food microstructure and nutritional properties.

“Do we already know the impact of processing and formulation steps to improve/control their nutritional properties?”​ they questioned.

Understanding the mechanisms of digestion and the bioavailability of major nutrients, gained from studies that use individual ingredients, “may be useful in reaching another level of complexity – the microstructural organization of a real food matrix,”​ said the authors.

Source: Food Hydrocolloids
Published online ahead of print, doi: 10.1016/j.foodhyd.2011.02.026
“Food matrix impact on macronutrients nutritional properties”
Authors: S.L. Turgeon, L.E. Rioux

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