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Functional energy: How oat protein and fibre is emerging as the next-gen superfood
A good balance of carbohydrates, proteins, fibre and micronutrients (vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals) in the diet is key for a healthy lifestyle and sports performance.
Carbohydrates provide the body with glucose for the energy necessary for both cognitive function and physical activity. Proteins are essential for the growth and maintenance of muscle mass. Meanwhile, fibre supports digestive health and provides feed for the gut microbiome.
Yet maintaining an optimal nutrition balance within the diet can be challenging, particularly for those juggling active lives or those with special dietary needs. As consumers become ever more aware of the links between diet and health, the need for nutritious and delicious foods that provide multiple health functions is becoming more crucial than ever.
“Consumers are becoming increasingly knowledgeable about optimizing their diets to improve their wellbeing and longevity. Dietitians and nutritionists are also exploring how personalized, nutrition-dense diets can be used to improve health naturally,” says Jekaterina Kuikka, senior key account manager at Fazer Foodtech.
A healthy diet for healthy functions
In the field of sports nutrition for athletes, and for those requiring meal replacements for specific health needs, incorporating functional foods into the diet is essential for maintaining health, improving performance and aiding recovery.
Oats and their derivatives can support an array of health functions. As well as being an excellent source of essential minerals and vitamins such as folate (B9), thiamine (B1) and vitamin E, oats also contain dietary fibre including beta glucan, a good source and quality of protein and unsaturated fats, as well as avenanthramides which are known for their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
Oats are a source of iron that contribute to normal brain function. Oat Beta Glucan contributes to the maintenance and reduction of blood cholesterol; high cholesterol is a risk factor in the development of coronary heart disease. Oat Beta Glucan consumption as part of a meal contributes to the reduction of the blood glucose rise after that meal.
Oat Grain Fibre contributes to maintenance of digestive health and fibre is the feed for gut microbiota. Effects of fibres on gut-brain axis, the two-way communication between the central nervous system and the microbiota in the gut, is under extensive research.
In addition to their many health credentials, the gentle pleasant flavour and creamy texture of oats makes them an ideal base as a raw ingredient in food manufacturing.
In the sports nutrition space, maintaining a nutritious diet is essential for athletes to perform at their best, and in their recovery to reduce exercise fatigue and avoid injury. Nutritional supplements containing key proteins and carbohydrates are widely used to support such activities, in drinks, snacks or powder formats. Increasingly, research shows that dietary sources of carbohydrates are key to maintaining consistent levels of glycogen in muscles and achieving optimal performance.
And the links between nutrition and exercise go beyond physical performance. “Exercise is known to activate the brain function and support neural connections in the brain. Therefore, for optimal performance and recovery, regular additions of carbohydrates and proteins are required for cognitive excellence and muscle function,” explains Fazer’s Foodtech Kuikka.
Fazer Foodtech’s ingredients are a solution for modern and active lifestyles. They address the growing interest in nutrition powders and meal replacement as part of a healthy diet and as a convenient format of nutritious food, snacks for adults and sports enthusiasts. Fazer Foodtech also considers requirements and recommendations for senior nutrition or for a specific set of health conditions to address problems such as impaired digestion, chewing and swallowing, rapid muscle loss, and malnutrition.
Fazer Foodtech’s oat portfolio
The current oat portfolio offers a unique range manufactured through patented gentle and ecologically sound process methods to deliver the pure, solvent-free, nutrient-rich beta glucan complexes and oat protein flours made from Nordic oats. As a result, Fazer Foodtech’s ingredients offer superior clean taste and colour, fine particle size, and lower oil content to improve the mouthfeel and shelf life of nutraceuticals and plant-based foods.
OP 20 Oat Protein Fazer’s oat flour offers a unique functionality for plant-based foods, sports nutrition and meal replacements. Its optimal carbohydrate-protein ratio (3:1) is a unique nutritional benefit, enabling endurance athletes and sports players to refuel and replace glycogen in their muscles. In addition, oat and pea complete each other really well: combining OP 20 with pea protein isolate in ratio 1:1 provides a complete amino acid composition and optimal amount of essential amino acids and leucine for muscle protein synthesis.
Because the oil content in OP 20 has been reduced in comparison to traditional oat flours, formulation’s problems associated with rancidity are also minimised, resulting in a final product which is clean in terms of taste and mouthfeel. The fine white powder, with a pleasant flavour, makes the perfect addition to enrich on-the-go functional snacks and drinks, protein bars and other products in the sports nutrition industry. It is also well suited to non-dairy applications such as plant beverages, yogurts, ice-cream and other spoonable dessert products, thanks to its enhanced functionality, pleasant texture and mouthfeel, as well as its gentle flavour.
BG 20 Fazer Oat Beta Glucan Fazer Mills in Finland successfully commercialised beta glucans offering created from CO2 defatted oats in 2015. Known for their special dietary contribution as components of soluble fibre, Oat Beta Glucans are water-soluble fibres found in the endosperm of oat kernels.
Fazer offers BG 20 nutrition complex which is rich in beta glucan (20%), and has a unique composition of soluble and insoluble fibre (42% total dietary fibre), as well as a plant protein content of 24%. Beta glucans from oats have four authorised EFSA claims and are known to slow down the passage of food through the body and slow the absorption of sugar into the blood stream. They also have strong links to heart health and cholesterol, health attributes which are of particular benefit to the ageing population and widely used in healthy foods as snacks, nutrition powders and meal replacement.
Oat Oil Fazer oat oil is obtained from the same patented process to produce oat protein and beta glucan. CO2 extraction delivers oil naturally rich in omega-6 and omega-9 and vitamin E, and its moisturising and skin barrier-strengthening capabilities, and protection from oxidative stress such as UV light, are already recognised in the personal care industry. It has possible potential use in the food industry as a nutritional compound but requires more studies to prove its efficacy.
As the leading oat mill in Sweden and Finland, Fazer’s mills are surrounded by Nordic oat fields, producing products from a truly local crop. Fazer is working to make farming in the region more environmentally friendly by developing sustainable grain farming practices in cooperation with value chain stakeholders. Its goals include reducing eutrophication, protecting biodiversity, and minimizing the use of pesticides. As part of its ongoing commitment to sustainability, the company uses every part of the oat during the production process, thereby reducing food waste. Thanks to its expertise in plant-based food production and innovative technology, Fazer is committed to creating solutions for people’s health for future generations.
If you would like to find out how partnering with Fazer Foodtech can help your business, email Jekaterina Kuikka or visit www.fazerfoodtech.com.
Authorised EFSA claims for Oat Beta Glucan complex:
(1) Beta-glucan maintain/reduce blood cholesterol levels and that is a one of the risk factors in the development of coronary heart disease.
(2) Beta-glucan contributes to the reduction of the blood glucose rise, as part of a meal.
(3) The fibre maintains digestive health by increasing fecal bulk.
(4) The protein contributes to a growth and maintenance of muscle mass.