We are probably quite familiar with probiotic micro-organisms and milk products which contain them like yoghurts. Have you ever thought that vegetable and nut milks might be good vehicles for probiotics ?
Nut milks have great market and commercial potential and are now to be seen on the supermarket shelf. Take almond and hazelnut to name a couple which are seen as healthy as dairy milks. Also, one other major reason for nut or vegetable milk consumption is the prevalence of dairy related allergies and intolerance. They also appear to be beneficial for diabetics because of their lower glycaemic index (Lovejoy, 2005).
The nut milks, especially almond and hazelnut are good sources of dietary fats and oils, carbohydrates, and dietary fibre (Bradley et al., 2011).
Hazelnut in particular has a superb lipid profile which is mainly oleic acid coupled with vitamin E- a potent nutritional antioxidant. It has a strong sensory appeal and is valued in mainly confectionary products (Tey et al., 2011a). This nut has been assessed in studies which demonstrate its cholesterol lowering effects (Tey et al., 2011b)
Product development of non-dairy milks is relatively straightforward. They are great matrices for added inulin and other prebiotics, so a fibre claim is perfectly feasible. They can sustain probiotics too by providing a fermentation medium which in turn is helped by prebiotic addition to increase viscosity and improve processability leading to better shelf-life and sustained sensory qualities (De Souza-Oliviera et al., 2009).
This is a post which will be developed further and I’d like comments from anyone who has particularly strong feelings about the benefits of nut milks.
Bradley, W., Bolling, C.Y., Chen, O., McKay, D.L. & Blumberg, J.B. (2011). Tree nut phytochemicals: composition, antioxidant capacity, bioactivity, impact factors. A systematic review of almonds, Brazils, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamias, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios and walnuts. Nutr. Res. Rev., 24, pp. 244–275.
De Souza-Oliviera, R.P., Perego, P., Converti, A. & de Oiliveira, M.N. (2009). The effect of inulin as prebiotic on the production of probiotic fibre-enriched fermented milk. Int. J. Dairy Technology, 62 pp. 195–203.
Lovejoy, J.C. (2005). The impact of nuts on diabetes and diabetes risk. Curr. Diabetes Reports, 5 pp. 379–384.
Tey, S.L., Brown, R., Chisholm, A., Gray, A., Williams, S. & Delahunty, C. (2011a). Current guidelines for nut consumption are achievable and sustainable: a hazelnut intervention. Brit. J. Nutr., 105, pp. 1503–1511.
Tey, S.L., Brown, R.C., Chisholm, A.W., Delahunty, C.M., Gray, A.R. & Williams, S.M. (2011b). Effects of different forms of hazelnuts on blood lipids and α-tocopherol concentrations in mildly hypercholesterolemic individuals. Eur. J. Clin. Nutr. 65 pp. 117–124.