TRANSFORMING COMMERCIAL FOOD THE HEALTHY WAY

Since social media has gained popularity and its use has become ubiquitous everywhere, it is quite obvious that trends and hashtags are in the boom. Communicating, comprehending and following are possible at the drop of a hat, and so when something new or revamped has reached people by the trend wave, it becomes massively famous – or rather say a cult following. A major trend that hit off in the recent years is the fitness and physique target, and we can see massive body transformations reeling all over social media pages. Well, many of them owe it to rigorous gym sessions, some to strict and controlled diet plans and some to major lifestyle changes (like healthy eating, sleep patterns, spirituality and sattvic living). Food manufacturing companies and big names in the market have also taken note of this and have put in substantial efforts and money into developing and refurbishing their product range to suit the requirements of the conscious consumer. These biggies have made major changes in their ingredient labels, nutritional charts and overall product composition, and supermarket shelves are now a healthier place for our grocery baskets and of course, our cravings. Most of these now-healthy products today promise a relishing, absolutely satisfying and guilt free eating experience, and they have truly made that transition to a commendable extent, if not the epitome of their sector.

Let us take an instance of companies selling instant noodles. A few years ago, this same product was on the frowny side of the healthiness scale, with maida as the major ingredient. But a lot of research and development efforts have led to the manufacturers opting for healthier and more nutritious grains like whole wheat and oats, with refined flour in minimal quantity or totally replaced. The frying process still remains similar to a great extent, but researchers are looking for a way to optimise the frying process too. Yet still, the frying process has been successfully replaced or highly modified in extruded snack products, wherein high pressure and temperature are applied rather than frying the product in oil and bringing its fat content to about 8-10%. These products contain minimal oil content in contrast to the conventional fried products, in which the fat content is about 25-30%. Extruded snacks have switched to blending better cereal meals too, like rice, corn and pulses. Fox nuts are emerging as a superfood product, with healthier processing options and high nutritional benefits. Whole wheat semolina is another everyday ingredient which has suited well to the requirements of the snacks segment. Oats have proven as a transformational and magical ingredient in many food items, with super health benefits and good blending properties with other cereals. With major inventios and developments in the food industry, many commercial products have changed their propositions from just ‘tasty’ to ‘healthy and tasty’, and have proved that not every healthy food item needs to taste obnoxious, rather quite the opposite of that. The sweets, bakery foods and confectionery section are going sugar-free and maida-free. They are cutting down or simply replacing empty calorie and unhealthy components and optimising preparation processes to make mouth-watering items, all similar in taste but with enhanced nutritional properties and adding sensible value to their consumption. Cakes and pastry items are switching to the goodness of components like better grains, sugar free options, natural sweeteners, dry fruits, minimal saturated fat ingredients. Frozen unsweetened yogurts are in great demand due to their gut-friendly composition and versatility in blinding with a large variety of fruits and flavours. Frozen dessert and ice cream makers are tilting towards sugar-free and low fat options. Biscuits and cookies are also transforming drastically into healthier versions of their original product formulations.

The products mentioned above are just the visible tip of a huge iceberg underneath the water surface. The way today’s food industry is remoulding itself will be greatly impactful in near and far future, and a range of products with sound taste and nutrition are in the line for a healthier diet and subsequently, a healthier tomorrow!

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