Hundreds of health foods are in the market offering the advantages of antioxidants which are supposed to neutralize oxyradicals generated at the cellular level posing health risks like cancer. Though many of these foods look impressive on paper their efficacy is not beyond doubt. The major problem is the extent of the added antioxidant ingredient absorbed in the digestive system and delivered to the cell sites for making them work. In formulation itself, there is a practical problem because many antioxidants, especially phenolic compounds are astringent to taste and pose a logistical challenge to the food scientists in formulating acceptable products with out the off taste. The report that Carboxymethyl Cellulose (CMC) is helpful in masking the astringency is a welcome development.
"The study, published in Food Quality and Preference, found that the CMC(carboxymethylcellulose) outperformed other common gums, including Guar, Xanthan, and Arabic, in the masking of the astringent flavour of polyphenols."The addition of CMC to the polyphenolic extracts from fruits of chokeberry, green tea and walnut significantly lowered the perception of the astringency," wrote the researchers, led by Greg Lamparski from the Polish Academy of Sciences."These results may be useful to prepare functional food characterised by the high antioxidant properties that could meet the consumers' acceptance," they added.The days were healthy products were deemed unappetising are coming to an end, and food manufacturers are acutely aware of the need to make healthy products taste good. Fortifying foods with polyphenols is limited by the inherent bitter taste of the compounds. Polyphenols are antioxidant compounds with health benefits reported to range from improved cardiovascular health, to protection against certain cancers and Alzheimer's".
In an earlier study scientists had found that adding CMC in batters used for frying snack foods reduced the oil up take in the final product significantly and was touted as a possible method to prepare low fat snacks. But subsequent finding that inclusion of CMC adversely affected the texture of the fried products ruled out commercial use of CMC in snack foods. This aspect needs further investigation and what effect presence of CMC will have on the overall taste and texture characteristics of the final product must be ascertained.