Healthy StructuringMany people eat too few vegetables. Dietary recommendations of today say that adults should eat 600 grams fruit and vegetables per day. Not many people reach this amount therefor it is a need to find ready-made meals that makes it easier and more attractive to eat more vegetables. It is also important to prepare the vegetables in the right way so the nutrients are preserved and also are available for body up-take. The aim of the project was to develop tasty and healthy ready-made meals based on vegetables.
”Healthy Structuring” was an EU-funded research project led by Maud Langton at SIK. Partners in the Healthy Structuring project was; SIK, Chalmers Technical University and Tetra Pak (Sweden), IFR – Institute of Food Research (England), IASP Institut für Agrar und Stadtökologische Projekte (Germany), Unilever (Holland), Universidad de Murcia (Spain) and K U Leuven (Belgium).
Vegetables were studied in a number of different aspects in the Healthy Structuring project through the entire food chain; from cultivation, storage, thermal and mechanical processing to preparation and consumption. The researchers also investigated how we best can utilize all the healthy components in the vegetables. They discovered that by heating the vegetables – especially tomatoes and carrots –our bodies more easily take up some of the valuable nutrients (lycopene in tomatoes and beta-carotene in carrots). It is important to add oil in order to facilitate for our bodies to benefit from lycopene and beta-carotene. Broccoli is high in vitamin C, which is easily destroyed during long cooking. One way to preserve vitamin C is to blanch, a cooking method in which the vegetables are heated prior to further processing or cooking.
The results from the project were used in the development of an optimized soup. Human studies showed a higher uptake from the optimized soup compared to the reference soup.
At SIK was following work conducted:
- How different pre-heating can be used to affect the texture of for example carrots.
- Relationship between consistency/structure and bioavailability of processed carrots and tomatoes, alone and in mixtures of them.
- Determination of how texture and microstructure changes at different process temperatures with time.
- How microstructure is affected by storage.
- Development of a software, BioMod, to be able to model (predict) how texture, nutrient concentration and enzyme concentration changes at different process conditions.