Adding fish oil to yogurt may help consumers meet nutrition requirements

March 30, 2012

A study published in the Journal of Dairy Science shows that it may be possible to achieve the suggested daily intake of omega-3 fatty acids by incorporating them in a serving of savory-flavored yogurt.

"The international popularity of yogurt and the health-promoting properties associated with probiotics, minerals, vitamins, and milk proteins suggest yogurt could be an excellent vehicle for the delivery of omega-3 fatty acids," said lead author Susan E. Duncan, Professor and Director of the Macromolecular Interfaces with Life Sciences Program, Food Science and Technology, Virginia Tech. "Recent innovations in exotic yogurt flavors provide innovation opportunities."

The researchers tested different levels of fish oil in a savory chili and lime-flavored yogurt. In a preliminary study, tasters could not differentiate between low levels of fish and butter oils in unflavored yogurt, but they could discern yogurt flavored with oxidized fish oil, which has a strong fishy taste. A second panel underwent 6 hrs of training so that they could accurately describe and measure lime, sweet, heat, acid, and oxidized flavor attributes. They found the fish flavor more pronounced than the lime and acid characteristics in a chili-lime-flavored yogurt fortified with 1% oxidized fish oil, compared with yogurts containing 0.43% or 1% fresh fish oil. The oxidized flavor was higher in chili-lime yogurts containing oxidized fish oil and a high level (1%) of fresh fish oil.

In a second study, 100 untrained consumers who were generally nutritionally motivated and aware of the health benefits of omega-3 fatty acids evaluated the overall acceptance and flavor acceptance of chili-lime yogurt enriched with butter oil or fish oil. Fifty percent of the tested group rated chili-lime-flavored yogurt fortified with 1% butter oil or fish oil in the positive end of the scale ("liked extremely" to "neither liked nor disliked"). Thirty-nine percent reported they would be highly likely or likely to consume the chili-lime-flavored yogurt on a regular basis. The low overall acceptance of the product by the remaining 50% of the tested group may be attributed to the chili-lime flavor or the lack of sweetness in the product.

The researchers concluded that there is potential for consumption of the entire suggested daily intake of omega-3 fatty acids in a single serving of savory-flavored yogurt, providing an alternative and easily incorporated dietary source of these heart-healthy fatty acids.