In recent years we have seen to grow the attention towards the quality of our diet and the desire to consume foods that are not only delicious but also healthy. This trend has led to the birth of functional ingredients, a new category of foods that are revolutionizing the way we eat.
Europrodotti considers the use of functional ingredients as a fundamental innovation at the center of its company policy, which has always aimed at the well-being and satisfaction of consumers. This strategy translates into the research and development of new products that improve the nutritional and functional quality of the food that reaches the table of each family.
What are functional ingredients?
Functional ingredients are alimentary substances that go beyond simple nourishment because they provide specific health benefits and improve general physical well-being. These aliments have natural origins and can be integrated into foods and drinks to improve their original properties.
Some examples of functional ingredients
Probiotics and prebiotics
Probiotics are live microorganisms that support intestinal health and the immune system. They are commonly found in yogurt, kefir and other fermented foods.
Prebiotics, on the other hand, are non-digestible substances that provide nourishment to the probiotics and to the good bacteria present in our intestines. Including probiotics and prebiotics in your diet improves digestion.
Vegetable proteins are gaining the interest of consumers, who are increasingly sensitive to environmental sustainability and the impact of the food industry on the ecosystem. Ingredients such as tofu, tempeh, seitan and pea or soy-based plant proteins are replacing or accompanying animal proteins in many diets.
Antioxidants, such as vitamin C, vitamin E and beta-carotene are present in many varieties of fruits and vegetables. These compounds help to protect the human body from damage caused by free radicals and are often associated with a reduced risk of chronic diseases such as cancer and cardiovascular disease.
Many food companies are enriching their products with functional ingredients such as vitamins, minerals, omega-3 fatty acids and fibers. These enriched foods aim to fill nutritional gaps that may be present in some diets by offering practical solutions to improve the health conditions.
Seaweed is an excellent source of nutrients such as protein, fibers and minerals. Sushi is one of the most well-known and appreciated gastronomic specialties that use these vegetables. Recently, seaweed-based snacks and nutritional supplements are also available that offer rich nutritional potential.
The advantages of functional ingredients in the cured meats and sausages industry
Functional ingredients play a crucial role in the cured meats industry to improve the quality and safety of products. Antioxidants, such as BHA and BHT, protect fats from oxidative damage, prolonging the freshness of cured meats. Stabilizers, such as sodium phosphate, maintain moisture making sausages succulent and preventing water loss during the processing.
Preservatives, such as sodium nitrate and nitrite, prevent the growth of harmful bacteria ensuring food safety for long periods. Flavorings and spices give the taste and aroma that characterize a cold cut, while the starter bacteria start fermentation, creating the distinctive flavor of fermented products.
Enzymes, such as transglutaminase, improve the cohesion of meat developing a uniform structure. The dietary fiber can be added to improve texture and reduce fat or sodium, making deli meats healthier. In some varieties of sausages probiotics contribute to the intestinal health of consumers.
The use of these ingredients follows strict regulations to ensure safety and quality. Their choice varies depending on the type of cured meat and regional traditions. The prospect is that functional ingredients will play an increasingly crucial role in creating delicious and safe cured meats for consumption.
It is a widely accepted reality that functional foods will become central to human nutrition and health. Europrodotti contributes to this sector which promises healthier and more sustainable solutions for consumers. Introducing functional ingredients into our daily diet will be an important step towards a future where the food we eat is not only delicious but also promotes healthy living.