Researcher works to improve yogurt’s health profile

Linda Benedict, Blanchard, Tobie M.  |  12/5/2013 8:24:00 PM

Kayanush Aryana is a professor of dairy foods technology in the School of Animal Sciences and Department of Food Science. (Photo by John Wozniak.)

Tobie Blanchard

The popular Dairy Store on LSU’s campus features ice cream in flavors such as Tiger Bite and Rum Raisin, but on the other side of the Dairy Science building, LSU AgCenter researchers are working on ways to make dairy products healthier. One of those researchers, Kayanush Aryana, is adding healthy ingredients to yogurt such as immune boosters, omega-3 fatty acids and fiber.

“We’ve also tried heart healthy yogurt. We’ve added ingredients such as magnesium, manganese, niacin, riboflavin, thiamine, folic acid and fiber,” Aryana said.

When used in small amounts, some of these added ingredients have little effect on the taste and texture of the yogurt.

Aryana is also working with lutein, which promotes eye health. But, lutein affects the color of the end product.

“Because lutein is a carotenoid, it will bring its red color into the product. So you want to go with lutein in strawberry yogurt instead of lemon yogurt,”

Aryana said. Aryana has determined that the lutein is stable in the yogurt over time and has shown that it does not alter the yogurt’s microbial profile.

For the product to be considered yogurt, it must contain the cultures Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus. Aryana says these microorganisms, also known as starter bacteria, have their own benefits, such as helping maintain good intestinal and digestive health.

L. bulgaricus produces large amounts of lactic acid, thus inhibiting the growth of gut pathogens. S. thermophilus has antioxidant activity, which scavenges the body for free radicals.

But these bacteria often are killed off in large numbers before they establish and impart their health benefits.

“These culture bacteria are susceptible to the stomach acids and the bile,” Aryana said.

So he is studying ways to enhance their acid and bile tolerances using pulsed electric fields among other techniques.

Aryana also is working with Pennington Biomedical Research Center as the lead institution on a National Institutes of Health grant to study slowly digestible starch. The five-year study is looking at the role of this starch on diabetes risk factors in pre-diabetic people. Aryana is looking at using yogurt as one of the vehicles to deliver the starch.

Tobie Blanchard is a writer in LSU AgCenter Communications.

(This article was published in the fall 2013 issue of Louisiana Agriculture magazine.)

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