Curcumin’s contributions: How the extract could boost the health effects and shelf-life of yogurt
03 Apr 2023 --- Curcumin can effectively be used as a natural preservative in probiotic yogurt, extending shelf life as it naturally impedes the growth of fungi and bacteria and increases health benefits, according to new research.
Curcumin, an extract from turmeric that gives the spice its bright yellow color, has been shown to have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and immunity-boosting properties. The researchers state that they were able to use a highly purified version of the extract to preserve dairy products with no loss in flavor.
“It is well known that curcumin has anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting effects,” says Dr. Magdalena Buniowska-Olejnik, lead author of the study and researcher at the Institute of Food Technology and Nutrition at the University of Rzeszow, Poland.
“However, it is insoluble in water, which is one of the main reasons why our bodies are not able to absorb sufficient amounts for it to have a biological effect,” she continues. “We wanted to see if it was possible to create a dairy product containing curcumin in a bioavailable form that would also appeal to the consumer.”
Bioavailable and easily dissolved
The research team coupled a yogurt with live probiotics with NOMICU L-100, a form of curcumin that they say is both easily dissolved in water and easily absorbed by the body.
Next, the research team compared it with yogurt mixed with a standard form of curcumin and compared how well each ingredient inhibited the growth of fungi, yeast and bacteria over a 28-day period. They also evaluated how the extracts affected the color of the yogurt as well as the taste with a panel of “expert tasters.”
“We found that NOMICU L-100 was better at inhibiting the growth of yeast, fungi and bacteria than the standard turmeric extract,” states Buniowska-Olejnik. “It maintained the recommended levels of the ‘good’ lactic acid bacteria that are contained in fermented, live yogurts.”
Dr. Maciej Banach, a professor of cardiology at the Medical University of Lodz, Poland, and researcher on the study, explains that: “NOMICU is the first highly purified curcumin available in the market that does not contain any other artificial additives and which has one of the best bioavailability due to the fact it dissolves well in water.”
Keeping the taste
Additionally, she states that the yogurt with the standard form of curcumin fared better at remaining mixed into the medium, noting that NOMICU L-100 tended to develop a layer of water on its top.
However, she further notes that the standard curcumin-infused yogurt also tasted bitter and the normal taste deteriorated after being in the refrigerator for a week.
“In addition, its color was toward the green end of the yellow spectrum, whereas NOMICU L-100 shifted the color toward the red end, making it look more attractive,” explains Buniowska-Olejnik. “NOMICU imparted a sweet, rich, creamy flavor to the yogurt, which remained stable to the end of the 28 days storage in the fridge.”
The researchers emphasized that this solution could easily provide people with the benefits of both nutrients in one medium.
Longer lasting and life-preserving?
Banach notes that the newly developed yogurt may have health benefits beyond normal probiotic yogurt due to the purified curcumin infusion, noting that the extract is known to have beneficial effects on sugars and fats in the blood.
“In our previous meta-analysis, the largest one we know of, we found that consumption of fermented yogurt was associated with a significantly lower risk of deaths from any cause or from diseases of the heart and blood vessels, such as stroke and coronary heart disease,” he explains.
“As a cardiologist, I consider that a yogurt enriched with a nutraceutical, which has been shown to be effective and safe, has potential for improving population health, especially when taking into account how often yogurts are consumed in everyday diet.”
He further elaborates that the combination of nutrients in the yogurt may make it easier for consumers to receive the health benefits than if they were eating two separate products.
“This is especially important now, in post-pandemic times, when around 70% of the population is overweight, obese or suffer from disorders of the gut and are at high risk of chronic diseases, including two of the biggest killers – cardiovascular disease and cancer, which are responsible for over 30 million deaths per year worldwide,” he concludes.
Edited by William Bradford Nichols
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