Inulin-blend offers low-fat dairy opportunities: Study

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Milk

Low-fat dairy products that taste like their full-fat varieties may be formulated with a blend of long and short-chain inulin, says a new study from Spain.

Scientists from the Spanish Council for Scientific Research (CSIC) report that the textural properties of full-fat semisolid dairy desserts formulated with carboxymethyl cellulose (CMC) could be repoduced with lambda-carrageenan or the inulin blend.

The study, published online in the journal Food Hydrocolloids​, taps into the growing low-fat market as consumers continue to seek out low-fat and low-calorie versions of their favourite foods.

According to the researchers, the most common fat replacers currently used include starch, cellulose, pectin, inulin, xanthan gum or carrageenan. For dairy products, however, the most suitable hydrocolloids are considered to be carrageenans, said the researchers, led by Sara Bayarri.

Recent figures from Frost & Sullivan reveal emulsifiers, along with fat replacers, are leading growth in the food additive industry: since 2001 the market value of emulsifiers rose by some 5.6 per cent. Emulsifiers are used by food makers to reduce the surface tension between two immiscible phases at their interface - such as two liquids, a liquid and a gas, or a liquid and a solid - allowing them to mix.

Formulation details

Bayarri and her co-workers produced a range of low-fat dairy desserts made with skimmed milk and using either lambda-carrageenan (Satiagum ADC 25) or a blend (50:50) of short and long-chain inulin (Sensus), and compared with full-fat dairy desserts made with whole milk and CMC (Akzo Nobel).

Results showed that low-fat samples with 9 per cent inulin or 0.03 per cent carrageenan had the same rheological properties to the full-fat control sample. In general, the researchers noted similar thickness, creaminess and smoothness.

However, they did report that, when 1.3 per cent CMC was used, “the low-fat sample with the added inulin blend was perceived as less thick and significantly smoother than the control sample while no significant difference were detected in creaminess.

“This confirmed that even when the rheological behaviour of products with different fat content was alike, during consumption the orally perceived texture is not always the same,”​ they added.

The researchers did note, however, differences in the perceived sweetness and flavour in the low-fat samples. “To obtain products with different fat content but similar flavour perception, sweetener and aroma concentration should be adjusted,”​ they concluded.

Source: Food Hydrocolloids
Published online ahead of print, doi: 10.1016/j.foodhyd.2010.02.004
“Comparing λ-carrageenan and an inulin blend as fat replacers in carboxymethyl cellulose dairy desserts. Rheological and sensory aspects”
Authors: S. Bayarri, I. Chulia, E. Costell

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