Trying to reformulate or develop new products with healthier ingredients and cleaner labels can be a complex process. It often involves removing or replacing highly functional ingredients with specific purposes. Here are some emerging ingredients that can give formulators more ways to simplify labels and meet demands for nutrition, function and taste.
Choline is macronutrient that aids liver function, normal brain development, eye health and vision, nerve function and muscle movement and supports energy levels for a healthy metabolism, according to the Institutes of Medicine (IM). Along with its impact on the brain throughout life, choline helps prevent neural tube defects in fetal development. It was always considered an important nutrient by dietary professionals but was really thrust to the forefront when the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee listed it as a critical but under-consumed ingredient.
Choline-rich foods include eggs, liver, beef, chicken, fish, broccoli and toasted wheat germ. It's also available in supplement form, including pre-natal vitamins.
Currently, more than 90 percent of the U.S. population doesn't meet the IM recommendation for choline, the institutes note. As a result, choline is also being incorporated into the new Nutrition Facts label.
"With the choline recommended daily intake (RDI) as part of the Nutrition Label revisions, we’re beginning to see more and more callouts on both front and back labels [of packages]," observes Thomas Druke, director of strategic marketing, human nutrition and pharma at Balchem Corp. (www.balchem.com), which makes VitaCholine supplement products. "Regulatory/industry changes are driving early innovators of food sources high in choline and will drive more awareness and spur fortifications."
Acerola, a cherry-like fruit rich in vitamin C and native to Mexico, South America and Central America, has been prized for thousands of years for its medicinal properties. Now widely exported globally, acerola fruit contains rich amounts of antioxidants, vitamin A, thiamine, riboflavin and niacin. Acerola is claimed to help manage diabetes, reduce signs of aging and allergic reactions, prevent certain types of cancer and improve heart health.
In culinary applications, it has a distinct flavor and can be eaten raw like regular cherries (although they aren’t related) and added to baked goods, candies, ice creams, jellies, jams and frozen juice concentrates.
It's been poised or predicted to make a mainstream run for a handful of years, and data from Mintel Group (www.mintel.com) indicates it's making a dent. New product launches containing acerola cherry rose by 36 percent between 2012 and 2016, the market research firm reports.
Naturex's (www.naturex.com) portfolio of sustainably sourced, traceable acerola products called AceroLife provide shelf life extension and are packed with organic acids. Suitable for meat and poultry applications, they act as "natural" preservatives and are available in organic and conventional varieties. Acerola Cherry 17 offers oxygen-scavenging properties that protect meat pigments against oxidation, which improves color.
Sourced in Brazil when their vitamin content is at its highest level, acerola made into powder has been shown to have 26 times more antioxidant activity than orange. Acerola can substitute for ascorbic acid in powdered mixes for bakery with no loss in performance, the company states, and the colors and pectins can liven the look of products while adding texture.
Another antioxidant-rich fruit − coffee fruit − the pulp surrounding the coffee bean, is considered more potent than superfruits such as acai berries. New-age beverage company Bai (www.drinkbai.com), which was recently acquired by Dr Pepper Snapple Group, helped put coffee fruit in many American minds, making it one of the company's most used antioxidant ingredients.
CoffeeFruitPure (www.coffeefruit.com) uses coffee fruit pulp sourced from the Kona Coast in Hawaii, previously discarded in traditional coffee production. It's available as a liquid, fine powder or tea cut for applications in food, energy beverages, shakes, teas, alcoholic drinks and dietary supplements. It can be used in functional products as a healthy-aging antioxidant and in supplements, says Stuart Nixon, business development director at CoffeeFruit Pure. Additive-free, CoffeeFruitPure contains phenolics and chlorogenic acid, which help fight free radical cell damage. In addition, for every 6 million tons of coffee consumed, there is roughly 24 million tons of waste produced, addressing the impact of discarded fruit pulp waste, Nixon says.