Novel functional fruit beverages with consumers health impact

This project aims to develop new functional beverages using apple/grape juices as matrix for prebiotics, probitotic strains and antioxidants to promote health benefits and wellness to consumers.

The goal of this project is to produce novel functional beverages based on apple/grape juice fortified with an optimal combination of prebiotics, probiotics and antioxidants, as alternative food matrices to fermented milk drinks and yogurts (most popular probiotic foods), to promote health and well-being. The combination of prebiotics and probiotics, collectively called ‘synbiotics’ is a very promising area in the development of enhanced functional food ingredients. The market for functional foods continues to expand and fruit juice based probiotic drinks would become an increasingly important category in future years. The apple/grape juices are an ideal medium for the functional health ingredients, because they are rich in valuable components (antioxidants, vitamins, dietary fibers, minerals), have taste profiles that are pleasing to all people, are perceived as being healthy and refreshing and acceptable by almost all age of the population, vegetarians and consumers who have intolerance to lactose. Probiotics are microorganisms products with positive effects on human health. Addition of probiotics to food and beverages contribute to boost the immune system and improve the balance of microflora in the gut. Lactic acid bacteria (Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, Lactococcus, Enterococcus) are among the most important probiotic microorganisms used in commercial dairy products and typically associated with the human gastrointestinal tract. When probiotics are ingested with food or juices they are exposed to acidic environment in the stomach and detrimental bile salts present in the intestinal pathway, being affecting their viability. For health benefits, probiotic bacteria must be viable and available at a high concentration, typically 1000000 CFU/g of product. That is why, delivery of probiotic bacteria in a biopolymeric protective matrix is imposed. Encapsulation is used as method of immobilization in many industrial processes in food and especially in beverage production. The technologies of beer, wine, vinegar approaches immobilization both traditionally, with adhesion culture (Acetobacter in vinegar production) and modern with entrapment of yeast biomass (sparkling wine). In the case of probiotic encapsulation, the cells must be protected against adverse environment, and also released in a viable and metabolically active state in the gut. Many studies have reported the use of encapsulated probiotic cells in cheese, yogurts, sausages, chocolate, cranberry and vegetable juices. Only few products containing encapsulated probiotic cells have been introduced on the market (chocolate, ice-cream). Prebiotics, non-digestible carbohydrates, are essential for the viability and microflora growth stimulation in the gastro-intestinal system. Fructo/galacto-oligosaccharides, inulin and malto-oligosaccharides are the most widely studied prebiotics. Pectic oligosaccharides, extracted from apple pomace remained after obtaining apple juice, have been proposed as a new class of prebiotics which exert health-promoting effects such as the growth of probiotics in the colon by stimulating proliferation and host immunological response. In the last decade, there has been much interest in the potential health benefits of polyphenols as antioxidants, offering protection against development of cancers, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, osteoporosis and neuron-degenerative diseases. Polyphenols, especially stilbenes and flavonoids, find largely in grapes, can be delivered via apple/grape juice, their incorporation contributing to possible prebiotic benefits. The idea of obtaining apple/grape juice with an optimal combination of prebiotics (either the new class of pectic-oligosaccharides or grape antioxidants or both) and microencapsulated probiotics with high viability and capacity to survive both during processing and storage of the final product, maintaining their multiple health benefits, is quite innovative. The outline of the proposed project, supported by a multidisciplinary team, is as follows: production of apple/grape juice and valorization of the resulted pomace by extraction of prebiotics and antioxidants; selection and characterization of probiotic strains and screening of synergy between prebiotics and probiotics; designing the appropriate microencaspulation technology of probiotics and screening of acid resistance of microcapsules containing probiotics; designing the optimal formulation of functional apple/grape juice recipes based on their sensory profile and establish of storage-life of selected new products. The formulation of natural apple/grape juices as functional fruit beverages (with the addition of probiotic strains) is of high interest to the consumers and to the market.
Project ID: 
9 546
Start date: 
Project Duration: 
Project costs: 
650 000.00€
Technological Area: 
Nutrition and Health
Market Area: 
Food and Beverages

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