Flaxseed Fortification for Muffins and Snack Bars: Study

August 30, 2011

Two muffin and three snack bar concepts were designed with or without 30 g of milled brown flaxseed (providing 6 g of ALA) and assigned to taste judges.

A study on flaxseed fortification in the journal Food Research International brings new optimism to fortifying foods for heart health.

Flaxseed contains omega-3 alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), antioxidants, and lignans-all of which have received attention for potential to support the cardiovascular system. But flax can become rancid and effect flavor and aroma if fortified in food products.

Researchers at the University of Manitoba sought to better understand flax fortification in two practical food products: muffins and snack bars. Two muffin and three snack bar concepts were designed with or without 30 g of milled brown flaxseed (providing 6 g of ALA) and assigned to 10 and 11 trained judges, respectively.

In orange cranberry and apple spice muffins, flaxseed imparted increased grain aroma and flavor, and increased bitterness. Overall sweetness and vanilla aromas and flavors were also reduced with flax inclusion.

In orange cranberry, gingerbread raisin, and cappuccino chocolate chip snack bars, no differences were detected in grain aroma or flavor. Spice aroma in the gingerbread raising snack bar was actually increased with flax.

The baking process for muffins and snack bars did not appear to affect the available ALA in the final product, but more research is warranted.

The results of these sensory tests support the need for further exploration of flaxseed fortification. Low levels of flaxseed fortification, with the addition of flavors and antioxidants (for increased shelf life), may provide a novel method for addressing nutrition needs of the general public across a wide range of foods.

Future research on flaxseed fortification should focus on sensory attribute intensities, consumer acceptability, and changes in ALA content from the baking process.