`Scientists Say Zinc-Enriched Table Olives Offer Health Benefits

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Scientists Say Zinc-Enriched Table Olives Offer Health Benefits

Feb. 18, 2013
By Julie Butler

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A new niche in table olives enriched with zinc — which improves firm­ness and reduces bit­ter­ness has been devel­oped in Spain.

Olives are usu­ally pre­served with sodium chlo­ride (table salt) but sci­en­tists at the Insti­tute of Fat, in Seville, have found a way to increase their nutri­tional value by adding some zinc salt. They say the result­ing prod­ucts not only offer health ben­e­fits, they are more sta­ble.

After tri­als with Aloreña de Málaga olives they con­cluded that a level of 0.75g/L of Zinc chlo­ride in the pack­ing brine offered the best bal­ance of fac­tors such as bit­ter­ness, acid­ity, salti­ness, firm­ness and crunch­i­ness.

The con­sump­tion of ten such olives would sup­ply nearly 80 per­cent of the rec­om­mended daily intake of zinc, they said in an arti­cle last month in the LWT — Food Sci­ence and Tech­nol­ogy jour­nal.

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Olive Oil Times spoke to research pro­fes­sor, Dr. Anto­nio Gar­rido Fer­nán­dez from the institute’s Depart­ment of Food Biotech­nol­ogy.

What inspired the project?

It’s part of our research aimed at reduc­ing the sodium con­tent of table olives while enrich­ing them with nutri­tion­ally desir­able com­pounds.

We focused on min­er­als because they are easy to add to end prod­ucts, and we found zinc inter­est­ing because of its role in numer­ous bio­log­i­cal processes.


Anto­nio Gar­rido Fer­nán­dez

Who might these zinc-enriched olives attract?

They would appeal to those want­ing to ensure they get the rec­om­mended daily intake of zinc, which is not exactly abun­dant in most foods and yet is involved in more than 300 types of bio­log­i­cal activ­i­ties in the human body.

Also, an infor­mal sur­vey found they were highly rated because the nat­ural bit­ter­ness of olives is not as strong in them.

Fur­ther­more, because zinc is rec­om­mended in cases of diar­rhea, it could be a way to pro­vide that ele­ment pre­ven­tively, although no data is yet avail­able on using these prod­ucts for that rea­son.

And from a busi­ness point of view, they offer a new for­mat in an impor­tant niche — con­sumers con­scious of the diet/health link — which is boom­ing.

When will they go on sale?

Var­i­ous com­pa­nies are inter­ested and we are devel­op­ing a research con­tract with one that seeks to offer a zinc-enriched prod­uct that also has improved prod­uct sta­bil­ity, thanks to the inhibitory effect that zinc salts have been seen to have on almost all the com­mon yeasts in table olives.



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