Antioxidant-rich extracts from rice bran may extend the shelf-life and improve the nutritive profile of cookies, suggests new research from Pakistan.
The study taps into the growing trend for "health orientated cookies", viewed increasingly by cookie manufacturers to boost individual consumption.
Writing in the peer-reviewed International Journal of Food Science & Technology, the authors, led by Muhammad Iqbal Bhanger from University of Sindh in Jamshoro, Pakistan, report that rice bran extracts may not only increase the antioxidant profile of cookies, but also contribute towards stabilisation.
"The rice bran is a potential source of antioxidants with good antioxidant activity and thermally stable compounds," wrote the authors. "Cookies prepared in rice bran extract might have appreciably good nutritive and health benefits when compared with other commonly used antioxidants."
According to a recent Mintel report, the health trend is proving profitable for cookie makers across the US, with sales of "health orientated cookies" steadily growing between 2002 and 2007, gaining 20 per cent in current value. The category experienced particularly strong increases in 2005 and 2006, pushing segment sales up 9.6 per cent and 8.2 per cent respectively, the report added.
Within this category, consumers have looked for what they consider to be healthy, natural and organic ingredients, as well as smaller portion sizes.
Mintel also stated that, although the overall US cookie market has increased 14 per cent in value between 2002 to2007, manufacturers will have to focus on niche trends in order to boost individual consumption.
Ticking the boxes for consumer acceptance
The new research prepared cookies using methanolic extracts of rice bran (500, 1000 and 2000 ppm) in sunflower oil, and compared them with cookies prepared using butylhydroxytoluene (BHT) and alpha-tocopherol (vitamin E) at 200 ppm.
The oxidative stability of the cookies, measured during one year's storage under ambient conditions, was found to be highest for the cookie prepared using the highest concentration of the rice bran extract, according to levels of unsaturated fatty acids (USFA) and saturated fatty acid.
"The results are authenticated by [other measures of oxidative stability, such as] peroxide value (PV), iodine value (IV) and free fatty acid (FFA) content, suggesting RB to be a potent antioxidant for the stabilisation of cookies up to longer periods," wrote the authors.
"This study will serve as a database to estimate the shelf-life of cookies stabilised with rice bran extracts," stated the researchers.
Moving towards 'natural'
In addition to the antioxidant activity of the rice bran extracts, the ingredients also tap into the 'natural' trend.
The food industry as a whole is increasingly seeking natural solutions rather than artificial additives, such as like butylhydroxyanisole (BHA) and BHT, to extend the shelf life of milder-tasting products.
According to a 2003 report by Frost and Sullivan, the synthetic antioxidant market is in decline, while natural antioxidants, such as herb extracts, tocopherols (vitamin E), and ascorbates (vitamin C) are growing, pushed by consumer desire acceptance and easier market access.
Source: International Journal of Food Science & Technology (Blackwell Publishing)
May 2008, Volume 43, Issue 5 Pages 779-786
"Antioxidant potential of rice bran extracts and its effects on stabilisation of cookies under ambient storage"
Authors: M.I. Bhanger, S. Iqbal, F. Anwar, M. Imran, M. Akhtar, M. Zia-ul-Haq