Researchers at the Universitat de València, Universitat Politècnica de València (UPV), Doctor Peset University Hospital and the Institute of Agrochemistry and Food Technology of CSIC have designed and tested the effectiveness of a new apple snack impregnated with tangerine juice that reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease in obese children and improves their physiological well-being. The snack, developed at laboratory scale at the premises of the Institute of Food Engineering for Development of the Universitat Politècnica de València stands out for its high antioxidant and anti-inflammatory potential.
According to the researchers, forty grams of this product provide the bioactive components of a glass of fresh tangerine juice. The results of this work have been published recently in the journal 'International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition', ' Nutrición hospitalaria' and 'Innovative Food Science and Emerging Technologies'.
To analyse the properties and functional value of the snack, a study was conducted involving 48 obese children aged 9 to 15 who were being treated at the Department of Paediatrics of the University Hospital Doctor Peset. Specifically, they evaluated the effect of the incorporation of the snacks to a low-energy diet, which the children followed during four weeks.
From this study, researchers found that the incorporation of the functional food to the children's diet improved systolic blood pressure and lipid profile (types of fats in the blood); also increased antioxidant defences and decreased markers associated with oxidative DNA damage and inflammation, all cardiovascular risk factors.
"It is not a product that induces weight loss in children, but it would help improve their quality of life. The modification of oxidative stress in adipose tissue (or fat tissue) can help in the prevention of cardiovascular risk associated with childhood obesity and in the long term prevent diseases such as atherosclerosis (hardening and narrowing of the arteries caused by the accumulation of fat, cholesterol and other substances)," said Dr. Pilar Codoñer, head of the Department of Paediatrics, University Hospital Doctor Peset and professor in the Department of Paediatrics at the Universitat de València.
To obtain the snack, researchers enriched apple slices with mandarin juice using a technology of impregnation developed and patented by the UPV team that allows incorporating additional ingredients to the structure of porous foods, as in the case of fruits and vegetables.
"After several years of work the product is ready to be marketed by private companies. Our snack has all the properties of two products as healthy as apples and tangerine and has no added ingredient. It is an alternative to snacks that exist in the market that contain oils and saturated fats and therefore are high in calories," says Noelia Betoret, principal researcher and professor at the School of Agricultural Engineering and Natural Environment.