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New, healthier and nutritious foods

With the purpose of improving the nutritional qualities of pregnant and nursing women of the Province of Cundinamarca, the Universidad Nacional de Colombia (UNal) Food Science and Technology Laboratory (ICTA, for its Spanish acronym) developed 20 new foods from vegetable, milk derivatives and meat and bread products.

“The purpose of working with these mass consumption products which are part of the household basic nutrition basket is to be easy to make and not require special machines to develop,” said UNal Professor and Chemical Engineer Luis Felipe Gutiérrez

The initiative was carried out with the support of 11 UNal Food Science-Technology masters candidates and developed within the projects of the Bogotá - Cundinamarca Agro-industrial Technological Corridor.

Less fat and more micronutrients in meat

One of the projects carried out was to make hamburgers, sausages and restructured meats (made from different cuts of meat from different animal species) and up to 60% less fat; beside lowering the amount of sodium or adding nitrates or nitrites or food additives used as preservatives whose use is not suggested due to its possible carcinogenic effects. Furthermore, they also have increased levels of iron and zinc, essential minerals for development of the fetus.

Another contribution to the meat products is better dietary fiber content which helps to improve the absorption of micronutrients. The purpose is to preserve the gut flora, as a basis for a better immune system and a better overall health. Furthermore, using the increased levels of iron, zinc and folic acid of eggs, they manufactured jelly candies which have 60% less sugar than commercial jellies.

Vegetables, fruits and juices

Although a good part of the nutrients the body needs are provided by fruits, vegetables and grains, these types of foods are not highly consumed in Colombia.

Data of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development of 2015 show that of the 42 million people in Colombia, 15 million do not eat fruits and 30 million do not eat vegetables on a daily basis. Taking the prior into account, and with the purpose of incentivizing consumption of cropped products in the Province of Cundinamarca, the experts produced a mango, carrot and pumpkin juice, which provide 50% of the minimum daily requirement of vitamin A, which deficiency in Latin America causes child blindness.

Another product was a cereal bar using quinoa –considered as an excellent source of protein– and dehydrated cape gooseberry, which provides more fiber and less sugar. Using mango, pumpkin, passion fruit, and yacón they also produce a rollable film, looking to appease children consumers. They also produced a beverage made out of oranges, carrots, and chia seeds, sweetened with Palatinose™ (a naturally sourced smart sugar.)

Cookies and cakes

Some of the objectives of the project were to reduce the fat content by 40%, increase the fiber content, replace wheat flour with other ingredients and create healthier bread products. The also created a low-sugar bread-cake with 40% less fat.

They also added Ganoderma lucidum, a fungus known as the Lingzhi mushroom, which has shown to have a positive effect on the immune system of children, be a good source of iron and free from trans fats.

They also produced cakes and cookies strengthened with iron and zinc using sacha inchi meal or also known as  “Inca peanuts”, a product native to the Amazon, which provides protein, fiber and omega 3 and 6.

Enriched dairy products

Although the dairy products produced in Bogotá and the Province of Cundinamarca have high protein levels, the project also produced high-protein yogurt and cheese with high levels of Omega 3 and 6 and also adding chia seeds, nuts, fruits, fiber and probiotics.

For instance, they produced a yogurt with sacha inchi almonds an chia seeds and a layer of peaches and mulberries on the bottom. They also produced beverage with 11% protein content, 20% dietary fiber, free of trans fats, low-fat content and with omega 3. The also produced a dessert using passion flower, strawberries and mulberries, enriched with proteins.

They developed three kinds of cheeses; a petit-Suisse type cheese with carrots with provides vitamin A and fiber; another cheese similar to mozzarella, to which they added sacha inchi almonds and dehydrated strawberries to balance the flavor and increased the levels of omega 3 and 6; and a cream cheese adding moringa leaves and folic acid.

“We chose moringa thanks to its high protein content and its calcium contribution, estimated at 400 times that of milk; besides the folate content, considered essential for the development of the fetus,” said the creators of the product.


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