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Flaxseed--enriched milk--based beverage for delivery of omega-3 fatty acids.

Dairy beverages constitute more than 60% of our total beverage consumption and are a rich source of vitamins, minerals and bioactive proteins. They are low in omega-3 fatty acids, which are beneficial for the health of our hearts. In Germany, enriched milk-based beverages are a fast-growing segment of the functional food market. In that country, $5 million was spent on functional dairy products in 1995. That amount grew to $419 million in 2000.

Scientists at Virginia Tech formulated a flaxseed-enriched milk-based beverage, which they called flaxmilk, to serve as a delivery vehicle to increase omega-3 fatty acid consumption. Finely milled flaxseed was incorporated into a standard skim chocolate milk recipe. This was then pasteurized, homogenized and stored at 4 C for two days.

Overall acceptability was rated by 62 consumers using a nine-point hedonic scale. A minimum score of six was an indicator of consumer acceptance. Among the questions asked of consumers were their gender, age, intent of daily consumption of flaxmilk and the relative importance of potential health benefits to consumption.

The final flaxmilk formulation developed by the researchers provided approximately 1.4 g of omega-3 fatty acid, 1.2% fat and 11.2 g of protein in 8 fluid ounces. This was compared to a product containing no omega-3 fatty acid, less than 0.5% fat and 5.8 g of protein in 8 fluid ounces of skim chocolate milk. A mean hedonic score of 6.35 was achieved for the flaxmilk, indicating the desired minimum acceptance level was reached.

Eighty-three percent of females rated the flaxmilk with a score of six or higher, compared to 65% of males. Although 58% of consumers indicated they would not consume flaxmilk on a daily basis, 85% said that they would consume the product daily if it yielded positive health benefits.

Further information. Susan E. Duncan, Department of Food Science and Technology, Virginia Polytechnic Institute, FST Building, Room 30, Blacksburg, VA 24061; phone: 540-231-8675; fax: 540-231-9293; email:
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Publication:Emerging Food R&D Report
Date:May 1, 2008
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