Food for thought

Food for thought

Low cost, healthy food is the core concept of superfoods developed by CSIR- Central Food Technological Research Institute (CFTRI).  Saritha Saraswathy Balan reports

Chocolates and laddus  made of protein rich quinoa and healthier chia seeds, ice-creams enriched with omega-3, multi-grain banana bars and carbonated fruit juices, the superfoods developed by the CSIR- Central Food Technological Research Institute (CFTRI) are an innovation for the common man. Finally, we may better the nation’s health index with a scientific approach to mass diet patterns.

The products exhibited at the India International Trade Fair at Pragati Maidan  both impress and surprise us with the range and scope of their utility and potency.  The main focus of developing the superfoods is to introduce health and nutrition best practices to everyday life. Superfoods have a superior nutrition profile and on regular consumption are guaranteed to improve health and wellness.

“People in the country have been going through a nutrition transition and there is an increase in incidence of diabete and obesity while there is still rampant malnutrition,” said director CSIR- CFTRI, Prof Ram Rajasekharan. “Chia and quinoa, dubbed super foods for their nutritional value, are consumed as seeds. These can be beneficial supplements in a country like India that has a high index of malnutrition,” he added.

The chocolates are made by adding the seeds after roasting them. “Ten per cent of the ingredient of the chocolates are roasted quinoa and chia. The content of saturated fat is reduced by adding the seeds whereas that of omega 3 fat, which is essential for the over all improvement of health, is  high,” Prof Rajasekharan said.

The oil extracted from quinoa and chia is used to make ice cream. “The ice cream also has the health benefits of omega 3,” he added.

Partially broken seeds are used to make laddu. “Both the quality and quantity of protein in the laddu is high. Consuming it won’t raise the blood sugar level. It’s not possible to say that diabetic patients can take these products , but the health issues of consuming them are reduced to the minimum,” he further said. 

 In the carbonated drinks only fresh fruits, which have grown naturally, are used whereas banana bar is made of spoiled banana. “By making the bar, we are converting the spoiled banana into a new product. Any fruit or grain can be put in between the bars and can be consumed as sandwich,” the director said.

On making nutrient-rich food for the common man, Prof Rajasekharan said that the prices of these products will be competitive. “We have started producing them on a commercial basis. But the price is less compared to the other products available in the market. At IITF they are cheaper,” he said. 

 CFTRI worked  on various facets of food technology, food processing, advanced nutrition, and allied sciences for developing the superfoods. It has developed the agro-technology for growing chia ( a species of flowering plant in the mint family) and quinoa (of the flowering plant family) in Indian conditions. Chia is the richest source of omega-3 fats from a vegetarian source and quinoa has excellent protein quality and low glycemic load carbohydrates. They have the potential to improve health condition and both blend seamlessly into traditional food preparations.

Leading scientists of CFTRI, Mysore have been working on the project to develop an indigenous variety of the two highly nutritious grain crops that are grown and used widely across the world for the past four years. “We have set up an independent department to work on molecular nutrition to develop the technology. The team has worked for four years to develop that. We modified the seeds of chia and quinoa to grow them in India,” the director said.



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