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The health benefits of prebiotics in dairy products

Prebiotics

Changes in lifestyle and eating habits have led to considerable multiplication of health problems and chronic diseases. There is a growing global concern on nutrition and personal health, functional foods gaining public acceptance. A food that contains biologically active compounds or components which are beneficially affects one or more target functions such as reduction of chronic diseases in the body along with it nutritional effects is named a functional product. Fermented dairy foods are of great significance since they provide and preserve nutritious foods in a wide diversity of flavours, aromas and textures while enriching the human diet. Prebiotics are included in many food formulations especially in dairy products in order to promote the growth of probiotics to improve the nutritional quality.

The word prebiotic is defined as a non-digestible food ingredient that beneficially affects the host by selectively stimulating the growth and activity of one or a limited number of bacteria in the colon thus improving host health. Prebiotics fall under the category of functional foods which are described as foods that contain some health promoting components beyond traditional nutrients which demonstrate their effects in amounts that can normally be expected to be consumed in the diet and are not pills or capsules but part of the normal food pattern. Potential plant sources for prebiotic carbohydrates are cereals and legumes, crops like barley, wheat, chickpea and lentils. Vegetables like chicory, Jerusalem artichoke, onions, garlic and leeks. Fruits such as dragon fruit, jackfruit, palm fruit and nectarines, bananas however are not limited to this.

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