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Indian researchers develop non-dairy calcium foods

By Ankush Chibber , 30-Sep-2011
Last updated on 30-Sep-2011 at 13:40 GMT

Researchers in India have developed non-dairy-based calcium-rich foods, which they say could be commercialized for sale as processed food products like instant mixes for breads and biscuits.

The study into developing these products was conducted by a team of researchers at the University of Pune and Pune-based Hirabai Cowasji Jehangir Medical Research Institute, led by Neha Sanwalka.

Sanwalka told FoodNavigator-Asia that the products were developed as part of a study into calcium intake in Indian children, which was found to be meager and much short of the set standards of 800mg/day.

She said that the team then decided to develop non-dairy based calcium rich products using plant-based calcium rich sources and methods like malting and fermentation to increase calcium absorption from these products.

Among the products developed are the likes of pancakes (dosa or thalipeeth), sweetmeats (chikki and ladoos), biscuits and cookies, breads, and various kinds of dips, said Sanwalka.

“The calcium content was increased by incorporating concentrated food sources of calcium such as sesame seeds, cumin seeds, khus-khus, soybean, cauliflower leaves, and pumpkin seeds,” she added.

Crucially, the food interventions did not affect the edibility, texture and taste of the said products, according to Sanwalka, who revealed that the products were tested using a hedonic rating scale for acceptability by a panel of 10 member.

“Ten products out of 14 were highly acceptable by the panel in terms of taste, and texture,” she said.

According to Sanwalka, the study was carried out on the dietary habits of 236 children aged 7-19 years, and it found that the calcium intake of children studied was around 50% to 60% of the Indian recommended dietary allowance.

“It was also found that 90% of the children's diet was deficient in calcium, and that 36% children had no milk intake in their diet,” she added.

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