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How to keep your health and diet in check while consuming baked products?

Food, nutrition and physical fitness form the foundation for a healthy lifestyle. And so are celebrations and festivities which are mostly associated with sweets of every kind in our culture. Bakery products are important part of our lifestyle. Bakery products include bread, rolls, cookies, pies, pastries, chocolates and muffins, which are usually prepared from flour or meal derived from some form of grain and cooked by dry heat process, especially in some kind of oven.

Bakery products are usually perceived as harmful to health. Most of the bakery products are made with refined white flour, which is unhealthy. They are also filled with preservatives, additives, sugar or artificial sweeteners, and of course other chemicals that are often hidden in bread and not disclosed on the label.

However, there are ways to make them healthier and tasty too. Health-based bakery products are the bakery products, which result in special health benefits other than normal nutritional supply when consumed in adequate amount.

Consumers need to become aware of the healthier options, so that they can maintain good health while enjoying the taste & convenience offered by bakery products.

1. Wholewheat bakery products

Wholewheat flour is a powdery substance derived by grinding or mashing the wheat's whole grain. Wholewheat flour is more nutritious than refined white flour. Whole wheat is a good source of calcium, iron, fibre and other minerals like selenium. Having said that, Wholewheat flour has a shorter shelf life than white flour, as the higher oil content leads to rancidity.

Consumption of whole grains has been found to be associated with lower fasting insulin concentrations when compared to those associated with the consumption of refined grains. It is a major component in reducing risk factors of Type 2 diabetes. It also reduces the risks of CVDs (cardio vascular disorders). Regular wholegrain consumption lowers LDL and triglyceride levels, which contributes to an overall 26% reduction in coronary heart disease risk factors. Wholegrain consumption is inversely related to hypertension, diabetes, and obesity when compared to refined grains.

2. Multigrain bakery products

These are bakery products containing two or more types of grain, especially for providing fibre and health benefits. Multigrain bread is bread made with multiple grains such as oats, cracked wheat, buckwheat, barley, millet and flax. Multigrain bread may have three to five different grains or it may have up to 12 different grains.

3. Bakery products with high fibre

Fibre refers to a group of substances that include plant polysaccharides and lignin that are resistant to the digestive enzymes. Effective elimination characteristics of this type of bread can help prevent diseases such as bowel cancer, piles, and stop constipation. Fibre tends to be very low in fat but can help prevent cardiovascular disease.

4. Sugar-free bakery products

Sugar-free foods do not contain any sugar and are usually artificially sweetened. These needs to look like, taste like, and have the same quality of their sugar counterparts in order to satisfy the consumer needs. There are several sugar substitutes available, although some of the artificial sweeteners are actually destroyed by high temperatures, which can lead to baked goods with an unpleasant flavour and appearance. Natural sweeteners often produce better results but they generally contain more calories and may require additional adjustments to the original recipe.

Natural Sweeteners

Honey: Honey is 25% to 50% sweeter than sugar, and has a distinctive flavour. Baked goods made with honey are moist, dense, and tend to brown faster than those made with granulated sugar.

Maple syrup: It is made from the sap of sugar maple trees. The sap is boiled down into sweet, delectable syrup. Grade A maple syrup is golden brown and has a delicate flavour. Grade B is thicker, darker, and is better for baking because it has a stronger flavour.

Molasses: It is a byproduct of refined sugar production. It contains small amounts of B vitamin, calcium, and iron. Molasses imparts a dark colour and strong flavour to baked foods, but is not as sweet as sugar.

Corn syrup:

It is known as "invert sugar.” It is useful in cooking and candy-making because, unlike other sugars, it does not crystallise. Corn syrup is less sweet than sugar, and does not add flavour like molasses or honey.

Other Natural Sweeteners

Refined fructose, Brown rice malt syrup, Fruit juice concentrates, Stevia

5. Organic Bakery Products

Organic foods are products of a farming system that avoid the use of man-made fertilisers, pesticides, growth regulators and livestock feed additives. Instead, the system relies on crop rotation, animal and plant manures, and hand-weeding and biological pest control.

6. Healthy Fat Bakery Products

Trans-fat containing margarine or butter used in cakes can be replaced by healthy alternative like olive oil, which is healthy. Rice bran oil was found to have a higher content of essential fatty acid linoleic acid. Butter and margarine both contain elements that are potentially harmful to the body. Replacing saturated fats with unsaturated alternatives is a well-known recommendation for your heart, which is based on many large and in-depth studies.

7. Healthier Options for Artificial Flavours & Colours

Artificial colours and flavours are concoctions of chemicals used to enhance food to look more vibrant or give a certain taste. They mask any natural variations in colour and flavour. After the process of foods being cooked, canned, frozen or dehydrated, they lack their original flavour. The expectation of processed foods is that they will taste homemade. The taste, texture and appearance of the products are all very important factors for consumer acceptance and must be optimised. So these can be replaced by using natural fruits, vegetables, which will give nutritional value to the food products.

8. Bakery Products for Food Intolerance

Food intolerance is negative reaction, often delayed, to a food, beverage, food additive, or compound found in foods that produces symptoms in one or more body organs and systems. The main food intolerances/allergies that affect the bakery industry are as follows:.

a. Gluten intolerance

Gluten intolerance or celiac disease is a lifelong illness that is caused by sensitivity to gluten. Gluten-free baking is presented with the challenge of replicating the functionality of gluten in the absence of wheat fibre. Gluten-free bread is produced by replacing flour with a mixture of fine rice fibre, potato starch and tapioca fibre. Xanthan gum is added to provide with structure and prevent crumbliness.

b. Lactose intolerance

Lactose is the double sugar found in milk. Milk can be easily replaced by soy milk. Soy milk is suitable for all baked products that require the addition of milk, including its use as a replacement for milk in custard based fillings. Whipped dairy cream may be replaced by vegetable-based “cream” filling. Soft or silken soybean curd can be successfully used to replace cream in cheese cakes.

c. Egg allergy

Most breads, pastries and biscuits or cookies can be made egg free by replacing the moisture content that is contributed by eggs with milk or other liquids. Cakes and sponge making are heavily reliant on the functional characteristics of eggs as aerating medium. Commercial egg replacers are made up of potato starch, tapioca fibre and carbohydrate gum. Addition of lecithin into the product improves overall volume, texture and eating quality.

In conclusion, the concept of healthy baking includes the reduction of transfats, increased use of whole grains, sodium reduction and inclusion of ingredients that deliver added Omega-3s, fibre or antioxidants. In addition to using reduced levels of trans and saturated fats, salts and sugars, fortification of ingredients has become common, with many baked goods containing heart-healthy nuts and dried fruits, and substituting cocoa for high-fat, processed chocolate additives.

As the baking industry continues to modify products to meet consumer demand for healthier baked goods, ingredient content and processing methods continue to change and evolve. The increasing literacy about nutrition among buyers has encouraged enrichment in bakery foods. Bakery products could be converted into health products, which is the demand of present consumers.

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