New dairy free yoghurts developed
Researchers have created products fermented with probiotic bacteria from grains and nuts — known as plant-based or vegetable “milks” — as an alternative to conventional yoghurts.
The products, which were created by researchers at the Universitat Politecnica de Valencia, were specially designed for people with allergies to cow’s milk, lactose or gluten intolerance, as well as children and pregnant women.
From the laboratories at the Institute of Food Engineering for Development, the team of researchers worked with almonds, oats and hazelnuts. They said they will soon evaluate the use of walnuts and chestnuts as raw material for these new products.
Products are “anti-inflammatory”
Researchers said in vitro studies conducted showed that some of the products developed had “anti-inflammatory” properties in the cells of the intestine, which they said could alleviate allergic reactions caused by food, and increase the bioavailability of iron. The caseins of cow’s milk, as well as being a common allergen, can hinder the absorption of iron.
“The results we have obtained also show that the ‘milk’ studied are a good matrix for the growth and viability of probiotic bacteria for the lifetime of the product, especially after their intake,” said Chelo Gonzalez, a researcher at the Universitat Politecnica de Valencia.
Furthermore, the researchers said their work offered “new clues” to improve commercial plant-based “milks” available in the market today, which have deficiencies related to low physical stability during storage.
“Overall, the project results contribute to increase knowledge about the nutritional and health properties of vegetable milks, in view of future industrial application to develop innovative quality products suitable both for the general public and for specific groups,” Mr Gonzalez.
The Institute of Agrochemistry and Food Technology and the University College of Dublin (Ireland) were also part of the study.
About plant “milks”
The “milk” made from nuts and grains represent an alternative to animal milks and soy milk. The researchers said these “milks” also have components of “great nutritional value that can provide numerous health benefits” for both consumer groups with specific problems (lactose intolerance, allergy to cow’s milk, vegan or vegetarian) and for the general population.
These plant “milks” are characterised by a profile of ‘healthy’ fatty acids and carbohydrates with low glycaemic index (suitable for people with diabetes). Moreover, they can constitute an “important source of vitamins B and E, antioxidant compounds (phytosterols and/or polyphenols) and dietary fibre”, according to researchers.
The researchers said such “milks” are also “rich in potassium and very low in sodium” and can “help maintain a healthy balance of electrolytes.
The “milks” derived from nuts are especially recommended for pregnant women because of its richness in folic acid and its good calcium/phosphorus ratio.
“This last property, together with the absence of lactose, milk protein and gluten, are what make these drinks good substitutes for cow’s milk,” Mr Gonzalez said.
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