IFT Report: Cocoa and Probiotics Getting In on High-Protein Trend


Hot ingredients cocoa and probiotics are looking to cash in on another ingredient superstar: high protein.

Photo © iStockphoto.com/Ionescu Bogdan Cristian

It’s evident by now that high-protein demand is all encompassing, spanning all types of food, beverage, and dietary supplement products. Even ingredient suppliers whose primary business isn’t protein are now looking to high protein as a new opportunity area. Nutritional Outlook spoke to two of these companies-a cocoa supplier and a probiotics supplier-at last week’s Institute of Food Technologists Annual Meeting & Food Expo.

At IFT, cocoa supplier Barry Callebaut Group (Zurich) sampled a nut cluster snack coated with high-protein chocolate. “We call it a compound coating. It has 20% protein,” said Laura Bergan, director of innovation and market development, Barry Callebaut.

Bergan said that the chocolate coating boosted with whey protein can be used to add protein to products like nutrition bars in myriad ways-in the coating, on the bottom of a bar, or even drizzled on top. The company also sampled the coating on superfruits and edamame.

“It’s just another vehicle for a food company to add more protein to their end product,” Bergan said. Mark Adriaenssens, the firm’s vice president, R&D, Americas, added that the coating has “nice shine and great flavor.”

Barry Callebaut also offers other on-trend healthful coatings, such as a high-fiber coating. “We think it’s a win-win where you can still have some health goodness but still have a nice chocolate treat,” Bergan said of these coatings. “Chocolate is a great vehicle.”

During IFT, Mike Bush, president of probiotics firm Ganeden Biotech (Cleveland), said his company continues to explore how its Ganeden BC30 Bacillus coagulans spore-forming probiotic strain can help further protein utilization in the human body. The company now has 11 studies on Ganeden BC30’s effects on protein utilization. Sports nutrition studies show that combining 20 g of Ganeden BC30 and protein may lead to benefits such as reduced muscle soreness and improved muscle recovery after resistance training. At IFT, Bush said that a new study on the protein-probiotics link has been accepted for publication in peer-reviewed journal, with more details to be announced soon. The study, he said, is “the culmination of a number of protein studies that we’ve done, as well as the sports nutrition studies and how they all relate to protein utilization.”

Bush explained the probiotics-protein mechanism of action: “One of the things we found early on is that BC30 will actually grow on and metabolize protein, which is very unique for a probiotic and unique to our particular strain. Most probiotics want to grow on as simple of a sugar as possible-dextrose and things like that that really help the bacteria grow. With BC30, what we’ve seen is that it will grow on many different carbon sources, ranging from simple sugars to more complex carbohydrates and all the way to proteins. It’s just a benefit of the particular genetic makeup of this particular organism.”

He continued, “There is a section of the genome of BC30 that is dedicated to breaking down proteins. The protein gets broken down, and as it’s absorbed, you see the availability of the amino acids go up. It improved protein utilization by 10%, which is fantastic.” Bush said the company is now also studying whether similar effects happen with plant proteins. “Now we’re looking at plant proteins, and we’re seeing the same thing with plant proteins, which are typically harder to metabolize,” he said. Ganeden is also now studying how Ganeden BC30 may aid vitamin and mineral nutrient absorption. The company recently completed a pilot study showing that 1 billion CFU of Ganeden BC30 enhanced the utilization of calcium, iron, and vitamins B2, B5, and B12.

Enhancing protein utilization is now another good reason why companies should add probiotics to their formulas, Bush said, such as in meal replacements, smoothies, and other protein-containing products. During the trade show, the company highlighted some of its clients that have done just that, including new meal-replacement shakes from Life Matters and Nutrisystem, protein powders from Performix, and superfood protein shake mixes from Joni Juice, Nutiva, and ViSalus.

Bush said the company now sees its clients using the product claim “supports protein utilization.” He said he believes this claim resonates with consumers. “To people who consume supplemental protein, protein utilization is important because whether they know it or not, if they’re taking 25 g of supplemental protein, not all of that is being utilized,” he said. Any ingredient that helps protein utilization will be well received, he said.

Enzymes, such as proteases, are similarly used to boost protein breakdown and absorption. Bush said Ganeden BC30 is not exactly looking to compete with proteases. Instead, he said, “Let’s put it this way-not really, but we’re hearing more and more people say that this is a great alternative to the other things we’ve used to help boost our proteins.”


Also read:

More Data Suggests Probiotics Plus Protein Benefits Muscle Recovery

Chocolate Makers Focusing on Cocoa Flavanols


Jennifer Grebow
Nutritional Outlook magazine

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