London: Scientists have developed an alternative to conventional yoghurt which is made from plant-based 'milks'.
Researchers at the Universitat Politecnica de Valencia in Spain and colleagues used plant-based 'milks' to create products fermented with probiotic bacteria from grains and nuts.
The alternative products are specially designed for people with allergies to cow's milk, lactose or gluten intolerance, as well as children and pregnant women, researchers said.
Through in vitro studies, researchers found that some of the products have anti-inflammatory properties in intestine cells, which could alleviate allergic reactions caused by food, and increase the bioavailability of iron.
The caseins of cow's milk as well as being on the list of allergen components hinder the absorption of iron.
"The results we have obtained also show that the 'milks' studied are a good matrix for the growth and viability of probiotic bacteria for the lifetime of the product, especially after their intake," said Chelo Gonzalez, a researcher at the Universitat Politecnica de Valencia.
The team has worked with almonds, oats and hazelnuts and soon will evaluate the use of walnuts and chestnuts as raw material for these new products.
The "milk" made from nuts and grains represent an alternative to animal milks and soy milk, researchers said.
These plant "milks" are characterised by a profile of healthy fatty acids and carbohydrates with low glycaemic index (suitable for diabetics), they said.
Moreover, they constitute an important source of vitamins B and E, antioxidant compounds (phytosterols and/or polyphenols) and dietary fibre, which helps to improve intestinal health.
They are also rich in potassium and very low in sodium, so these drinks help maintain a healthy balance of electrolytes.
The "milks" derived from nuts are especially recommended for pregnant women because of its richness in folic acid and its good calcium/phosphorus ratio.
"This last property, together with the absence of lactose, milk protein and gluten, are what make these drinks good substitutes for cow's milk," said Gonzalez.
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