Botanical health benefits beyond nutrition

by Donna Berry
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Health benefits attributed to botanicals are not limited to nutrition but also can assist in emotional health or cosmetic changes.

For example, consumers associate botanicals such as ginseng, green tea, guarana and yerba maté with providing energy. And all of these ingredients can be used in baked goods.

“They are easily added to the dough or batter by mixing with other dry ingredients,” said Marlene Smothers, associate director, sweet applications, Wild Flavors, Inc., Erlanger, KY. But bakers should note that some botanicals may cause additional browning when baked, and adjustments in time and temperature might be required.

Relaxation is connected with chamomile, lavender, lemon balm and passionflower. “Many consumers enjoy a cookie or small snack before bedtime. These extracts can easily be added to such baked goods to help consumers relax and unwind,” added Heather Biel, manager, healthy ingredient technology Wild Flavors. “They can easily be incorporated into toppings, fillings and glazes because their mild flavor performs better without baking; however, their function is not affected by baking.”

Resveratrol, credited with anti-aging qualities, is a compound concentrated from the skin of the common red grape (Vitis vinifera) and sold as a botanical extract for application in all types of foods and beverages. The most notable use among baked foods is the Winetime bar from ResVez Inc., Rancho Santa Fe, CA.

This nutrition bar has a moist, fruit-based core enrobed in chocolate. It contains more resveratrol than 50 glasses of red wine — without any alcohol. The product capitalizes on the appeal of fruit, chocolate and the anti-aging aura of resveratrol, credited to its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.

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