The market for functional foods (those designed to provide optimal health benefits) is exploding.These days, you can’t walk through a grocery store without noticing more and more products extolling their antioxidant, fiber, and micronutrient virtues.
Sure, some of this is just marketing to focus your attention on a food that was always a healthy choice, but that you weren’t familiar with; coconut water, for instance.
However, much of the effort is now on making foods that are already popular, healthier.
Because many fruits with antioxidant properties don’t lose their strength when baked, that morning muffin or scone could be healthier than you think (and getting healthier soon).
“The benefits are due to complex molecules; the proanthocyanidins, the anthocyanins, all these different types of pigments acting together to bring about health benefits,” says Jeannette Ferrary, spokesperson for the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council. “In baked products, the more blueberries the better. Virtually fat-free and low in sodium, carbohydrates and cholesterol, antioxidant-rich blueberries are a delicious source of fiber, minerals, folate and vitamins.”
Fiber has been shown to lower cholesterol, improve glucose response in diabetics, promote satiety and weight loss, and to boost immune system function.
Researchers at the University of Georgia have found that the bran from certain varieties of sorghum can offer even more of an antioxidant punch to those bakery treats. Plus it’s gluten-free.
“Sorghum bran not only provides the fiber but gives you a real medicinal punch at the same time because it delivers a lot of other chemicals that a berry would give you,” said study co-author Diane Hartle, director of the UGA Nutraceutical Research Laboratory.
Is the next place in the supermarket to benefit from this research the candy aisle?
Dark chocolate is already well-known for its high antioxidant capacity and nuts for their healthy fats, protein, and fiber.
“Opportunities to use fruits, such as blueberries, to build up the healthy halo of confections provide exciting possibilities,” says Ferrary. “Taste-provoking ingredient pairings—chocolate and blueberries, blueberry with green tea, blueberry and flax, fig paste and blueberries, or blueberry and oatmeal—offer interesting vehicles to push confections into the healthy snacking arena.”
With the speed of which functional foods are hitting the market, will it be long before Starbuck’s creates the ultimate baked good to pair with your morning coffee: a gluten-free sorghum bran, dark chocolate chip, blueberry, fig paste, and green tea muffin?
Article Courtesy: Antioxidant.com Editorial Staff
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