Each Think5 nutrition bar contains, in powdered concentrate form, three cups of vegetables (including spinach, watercress, broccoli, spirulina and chlorella) plus two cups of fruits (including cranberries and apples). The phytonutrients are retained, predominantly as flavanoids and other antioxidants.
Think5 manages to cram five servings of fruits and vegetables into a single, albeit dense, bar thanks to vegetable powders.
“With today's consumer trying to eat healthier but not having the time to eat three solid meals, including the recommended daily allowance of fruits and vegetables, we see a growing trend towards the use of natural fruit and vegetable powders in convenient on-the-go formats,” Xenakis adds.
A convenience of powdered produce is easy formulation. In some cases, a blend of powders can go into a retail product with little change. For example, Navitas Naturals (www.navitasnaturals.com), Novato, Calif., sells its Twister Power blends to processors in bulk (they’re also available to consumers in pouches as an add-in for smoothies and other beverages or a stir-in for cereals or yogurt). The company currently provides four blends of tropical fruits and vegetables, focusing on the trendy exotics such as goji, açai, pomegranate, maca, mangosteen, chia and flax.
Decas Botanical Synergies (www.decasbotanical.com), Carver, Mass., offers the Nutricran family of what it terms “fruitaceutical” powders, such as Nutricran 90 and Pacran, what Decas claims is the first clinically supported, proanthocyanidin-certified cranberry powder. Decas also expanded its line into organic whole berry powders with BerryOrganic.
Kerry Ingredients and Flavors (www.kerryamericas.com), Beloit, Wis., supplies a range of fruit and vegetable powders, extracts and flavors. Its Crystals line of fruit and vegetable juice powders use a novel freeze-drying technology to deliver a natural powder with instant solubility, high flavor and color, high juice solids content and retention of the natural vitamin, mineral and color content of the original ingredient.
Kerry also supplies a complete range of spray-dried fruit and vegetable powders including apple, banana, citrus, beet, passion fruit, carrot, guava, hibiscus and more. All are derived from pure fruit or vegetable juice concentrates and extracts, and give genuine taste and color of the juice from which they were extracted. They have a low activity of water, are stable to oxidation and Kosher certified with a shelf-life of 12-24 months.
Also is growing in leaps and bounds is the use of vegetable-derived flavors and colorants for savory products such as crackers, chips, tortillas and similar products.
What makes it a men’s tortilla? The lycopene for prostate health, via Lycored’s tomato extract.
“Dehydrated onion, garlic, capsicum and vegetable products add color and flavor in applications where added moisture is undesirable, such as sauces or soups,” says Rob Rye, director of category leadership for Gilroy Foods & Flavors (www.gilroyfoodsandflavors.com), a division of Omaha, Neb.-based ConAgra.
Dehydrated vegetables such as parsley or red pepper can also add vibrant color in chips and crackers.”
He notes dried forms are versatile because they can be added directly to wet or dry applications. The wide range of particle sizes helps play a role in the visual cue the consumer sees and tastes in a soup, dressing or sauce.
Vegetables are no longer limited to savory applications. In addition to its Lycomato powder and paste products, Lycored Inc. (www.lycored.com), Orange, N.J., recently began offering innovative “tomato raisins,” supersweet dried cherry tomatoes extremely high in lycopene. Each Lycomato tomato raisin contains 1mg or more of lycopene and other phytonutrients.
The tomato raisins also are a "clean label" fortification ingredient. They are naturally bred to self-dehydrate, can be provided diced or whole to processors ready for formulation in the same way as dried fruit products, such as raisins, cranberries and tart cherries. So much so that one major food manufacturer currently is investigating incorporating the tomato raisins into one of its hot cereal products.
Lycored was established out of the original development of naturally derived lycopene from tomatoes. The company also offers betacarotene and lutein. All three are strong antioxidants that assist the body’s defense against oxidation damage caused by excess free radicals, the byproducts of normal cell metabolism.
Lycored’s Lycomato brand of lycopene has been incorporated into a wide variety of products -- even Kashi Heart to Heart cereal from Battle Creek, Mich.-based Kellogg Co.
The health factor
There are a number of advantages to using fruit and vegetable ingredients. “Products using these ingredients provide an attractive combination of health benefits and exotic tastes,” says Naturex’s Dauby.
“Another factor is the education of the public. The flood of continuing good news about their health benefits, backed by sophisticated marketing campaigns and innovative packaging, have propelled these products into the consumer’s eyes.