(NewsUSA) - Three square meals a day are a thing of the past. Busy schedules, diverse dietary preferences and the flow of modern life necessitate more flexible and convenient meals. Luckily, snacking is in the midst of a revolution. Traditional snacks like chips and pretzels have given way to bigger, better and healthier options that deliver both convenience and nutrition in one tasty package. Whether clean-label, organic, vegan or nutrient-added, it's up to ingredient suppliers and manufacturers to develop products that meet all of these demands. That's certainly a tall order.
While there are no standard requirements for clean label snacks, naturally derived gums, hydrocolloids and colors are generally accepted in such applications and have become increasingly popular. You might see these ingredients listed as carrageenan, a soluble fiber from red seaweed, or cellulose gel, which is a refined plant fiber. In many foods and beverages, these ingredients improve shelf life and nutritional value without diminishing taste -- like giving drinkable low-fat yogurt that distinctive creamy consistency with every sip.
They also prove quite functional in products that meet strict dietary requirements, like gluten-free and vegetarian options. Hydrocolloids and gums like carrageenan, alginates and cellulose gel can be sustainably sourced from nature and are perfectly suited for vegetarian and vegan foods. Either by improving the flavor and fullness of meatless sausage or producing non-dairy ice cream with that definitive indulgence and delectability, these ingredients are making new snacking options both possible and palatable.
Reducing the number of ingredients in a recipe is one challenge and, more recently, adding ingredients has become another. We want foods and beverages with added value, but it's important to understand that introducing vitamins or nutrients to any product can significantly affect flavor and texture. Enriched, shelf-stable snacks that boast added protein need a stabilizer to maintain the quality of the product. Without the added ingredients like carrageenan, similar products might separate, taste chalky or be less effective than their claims imply.
Food companies are adapting their product formulations and rolling out new products to meet demand for healthy snacking solutions. Naturally derived ingredients that help reduce fat and sugar content but maintain product integrity are changing the way we snack. They deliver that indulgent experience we all appreciate. For more information on ingredients that give us a variety of snacks for a wide range of diets, please visit www.FoodScienceMatters.com.