Potential Use of Herbs in Milk and Milk Products

ABSTRACT

Functional foods contain bioactive compounds, which offer health benefits. These food ingredients basically include vitamins, phytosterols, bioactive peptides, carotenoids, antioxidants, fatty acids, fibers, etc. Several herbaceous plants and extracts of suave and woody vines are considered as herbal medicines that are recognized for their savoiy and medicinal properties. Several methods have been mentioned va. Ayurveda with health benefits, such as application in milk as earners of these herbs. The major part of the milk in India is used for the preparation of daily products of traditional origin with a well-established market at the domestic level. Incorporation of herbal bioactives into traditional Indian daily products not only helps the industiy to meet the growing consumer demand for these foods but also facilitates in competing with the ever-increasing world market of functional foods. The research reports confirm the addition of polyphenols (herbs) into milk to improve anti-oxidative activity, thermal stability, and alcohol stability but decreased non-enzymatic browning, rennet coagulation time (RCT), etc. These modifications in milk properties are of utmost importance as these may modify the pre-optimized processing parameters for the preparation of dairy products. This chapter focuses on possible aspects of the incorporation of herbs into milk and different milk products.

INTRODUCTION

Industrialization and rapid urbanization have resulted in dramatic changes in the social and economic life of people living in developing countries and

India is not an exception. The effect of changes in the lifestyle is directly reflected in the susceptibility and occurrence of lifestyle-related diseases in these populations. Busy work schedule tends to affect the lifestyle by replacement of part of the regular diet by junk foods, which are rich in fat, sugar, and calories. This changing scenario of health status has made people more prone to various nutritional disorders, such as obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases (CVD), etc. [39]. The emergence of several lifestyle-related health disorders in the recent times has resulted into an increasing focus on foods added with bio-functional components [26].

Consumers nowadays are more attracted toward foods, which enhance the health beyond basic nutrition. Thus, functional foods are assuming immense popularity and the food markets are being dominated by a variety of functional foods. A market survey has shown high potential for health promoting as well as value-added foods in the Indian market [38]. The study also reported that the growth in functional food segment has increased from 8.5 to 20% per year, whereas growth in other food products is estimated at about 1 to 4% per year.

In India, majority of milk produced is utilized for preparation of different milk products [89]. Processing and thereby converting the liquid milk into daily products not only preserves the milk solids for longer duration but also results into value addition products. Although the domestic markets are well established for dairy products in India, yet India daily entrepreneurs must look for new ways to add more and more functionality in their daily products to compete with the expanding demand of functional foods.

Some bioactive ingredients targeted for functional daiiy/food products include: polyphenols, plant sterols, dietaiy fibers, Omega-3 fatty acids, probiotics, and prebiotics, etc. Demand for herbal remedies is regularly increasing. About 20% of the Indian plant species are used for medicinal purpose. In pharmacologic terms, ‘herb’ is generally referred to all the components of herb (viz., shoot, and roots, flowers, and leaves, fruits, and seeds) that are used for their medicinal attributes. Literature also suggests their application in culinary purposes; in cheese making as both coagulating and flavor ingredients. Herbs have also been used in foods in many regions of present-day Asian and European countries (viz., Persia, Mesopotamia, Greece, and Rome, and Arabia) [12, 81].

Herbs harbor variety of bioactive compounds, such as polyphenols, carotenoids, flavonoids, sterols, lignans, saponins, terpenoids, etc. Present research has been focused on herbs with functional activities (viz., hypolipidemic, hmnune-stimulating), which will act as potential adjuncts in decreasing the risk of cancer and cardio-vascular diseases. In India, herbal products are mostly sold in pharmacological aspect (medicine) to cure certain ailments and thus are categorized as ‘medicines.’ In order to ensure the success of program to boost herbal crop production, emphasis on value-addition to new product development cannot be neglected.

Ayurveda is recognized as the most ancient document related to health’s philosophy and it covers almost every aspect of human well-being [71, 72]. There is vast literature on incorporation of herbs into cheese, yoghurt, and other western dairy products to enhance their functionality. However, there is no consolidated literature available regarding the work undertaken with the objective of supplementation of herbs into different Indian daily products.

During the recent era, milk products have gained special importance in the research and development institutions to enhance their functionality. Developments in the functionality improvement of different Indian daily products, especially by herbal supplementation, are discussed in this chapter.

 
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