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Optimizing Ingredients

Fortifying Baked Goods with Green Tea Extract

Fortifying foods such as bakery items with polyphenols like green tea Catechins is very limited by the inherent bitter taste of the compounds. Numerous studies have shown that green tea compounds, especially epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), may offer protective effects against Alzheimer’s and certain cancers, improve cardiovascular and oral health, and better yet, play a positive role in weight management. Green tea contains between 30% and 40% water extractable polyphenols. Black tea on the other hand, contains between 3% and 10%. Black tea is green tea that has been oxidized by fermentation.

Bitter-Free green tea extract with the use of expensive flavors.

The challenge has always been how to mask the bitter taste of this important, beneficial ingredient so that it can be used in everyday staple items such as chocolate, bakery items, stick packs, drinks such as malts, or to be sprinkled on salads, added to cereal and more. Microencapsulation/encapsulation has been used to cost effectively mask the bitter taste of green tea extract. Each particle of green tea extract is coated with a thin, tasteless film of vegetable food grade material. The resulting material is a very fine free-flowing brownish powder that can be used in nutrient bars, powdered mixes, bakery products, nutrient bars, chocolate and soft chews. Previous attempts by the industry to mask the bitter taste of polyphenols such as green tea extract were focused on using expensive dairy products, high price flavors and sweeteners.

Green tea in muffins.

Green Tea MuffinsThe key question was whether this breakthrough would withstand the rigors of baking. Can a coated green tea extract when subjected to baking conditions remain bitter-free? Can bakery items be a vehicle for delivery of green tea extract? It is with this objective that a Deland, Florida bakery was tasked with achieving a palatable bakery end product to deliver the benefits of a full adult recommended amount of green tea extract; the equivalent of three normal cups of green tea extract. The main beneficial components of the intake were EGCG and polyphenols. As an added benefit, the green tea used contained 6mg caffeine (about 1/1000 that of an average cup of coffee). The EGCG content was 46%.

green-tea-muffins

Initial testing was performed with banana nut muffins in a casual atmosphere and only to determine what differences in taste, if any, was achieved by using a 50% active ingredient microencapsulated green tea extract. To achieve the benefits of a full day’s recommended intake of Green Tea using the 50% active green tea extract, a batch level necessary to net 1,750mg (1.75g) per muffin was used. At this level the acceptable loss that occurred at the outer extremes of the product due to prolonged exposure to higher levels of heat leaves a net benefit of 1,500mg (1.5g) per muffin. To determine the correct batch amount the baker divided the total batter weight by the weight of each muffin and multiplied the result by 1.75g to give the total weight needed to add to the batch. Understandably, this added weight to the batch; however the weight difference was too minimal to be considered as altering the benefit. With levels equal to a robust 3 cups of green tea and encapsulated to active ingredient levels of 50% (50% active ingredient and 50% coating), according to the baker, he and his crew did not detect any bitterness in the muffin batch and could not differentiate between the control batch that had no added green tea extract and the batch that contained the coated 50% green tea extract. Additionally, texture of the muffin was not altered.

Green tea as part of everyday staple.

The baker commented that it was his strong belief that microencapsulated products, such as green tea extract, were a huge cost effective benefit to any baker or otherwise food processor in adding value to a product by masking tastes and adding what he and his crew at this Deland, Florida bakery were calling “Incidental Nutritional Product Benefits.” He believes that the consumer will be attracted to the prospect of not having to take an extra step to obtain nutritional benefits in their daily lives.

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