Red palm oil shows functional chocolate potential

By Nathan Gray

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Antioxidant, Saturated fat, Nutrition

Adding red palm olein to chocolate spread could boost its antioxidant power and nutrient availability, according to new research published in the journal Food Chemistry.

The study, suggests that adding up to 20 per cent red palm olein (RPOL) into a functional chocolate spread could lead to nearly 20 times higher concentrations of carotenes.

“It was observed that when butter was replaced with 20% RPOL, all antioxidants were found to increase significantly,”​ wrote the researchers, from the Food Science and Technology Department at Alexandria University, Egypt.

Palm olein has been suggested as a potential functional ingredient for the replacement of vegetable oils and cocoa butters in confectionary products because it contains a wide variety of antioxidants and functional ingredients, including carotenes, tocopherols and tocotrienols.

The aim of the new study was to formulate a functional chocolate spread using red palm olein, assessing its sensory qualities and storage stability over a 6 month period.

Higher antioxidants

Functional spreads were formulated by replacing butter fat in conventional chocolate spread with red palm olein at 20%, 40%, 60%, 80% and 100% levels.

Results of sensory evaluations suggest that functional spreads made from 20% red palm olein (RPOL) and 80 per cent butter fat were equally as accepted as the conventional chocolate spread (100 percent butter fat).

All antioxidants measured were reported to significantly increase when butter was replaced with 20 percent RPOL. With 3.7 times more tocopherols and tocotrienols and 19.8 times more carotenes than the 100 percent butter control.

It was found that the functional spreads could be stored at room temperature for 6 months without any deteriorative effects on their sensory quality – however it was seen that antioxidant levels decreased as the storage period extended, both at room temperature and in a refrigerator.

However, it was also seen that the addition of 20 per cent RPOL was responsible for an 8.8 percent increase in total saturated fats (SFA), and increase total polyunsaturated fat (PUFA) content by nearly 45 percent.

Effective formulation?

The researchers concluded that “A high quality functional chocolate spread was able to be produced by replacing the butter fat with RPOL at 20% level.”

The researchers go on to suggest that a functional spread formulation with high levels of carotenes could “act as one of the most effective means for overcoming vitamin A deficiency”​, adding that the spread formulation “contains high concentrations of natural antioxidants that possess health benefits, as it has been extensively reported in literature.”

However, the addition of palm olein was not only associated with increased levels of functional ingredients such as carotenes and antioxidants, as increased levels of SFAs, PUFAs, and increased overall fat content were also observed.

Source: Food Chemistry

Published online ahead of print, doi: 10.1016/j.foodchem.2010.06.034

“Utilisation of red palm olein in formulating functional chocolate spread”

Authors: N.N.M. El-Hadad, M.M. Youssef, M.H. Abd El-Aal, H.H. Abou-Gharbia

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