10 Apr 13 A world first: low fat snack nuts
American firm, Apptec Health Food, has figured out a way to remove fat and calories from peanuts in such a way that it has launched what it says is the first commercial snack product of its kind, under the brand name, Nachalur Natural. Unveiled last year, it is now seeking to patent the novel high-speed process that expels up to 50% of the peanut fat, then reconstitutes the mass with water, and creates ‘nut shapes’ that are dried, coated and roasted.
In the patent application (US#20130078348 – read here), Apptec says: “There is a need for a low calorie nut, especially a peanut that is low in fat. [But] the processes that are in use today to form low calorie nuts are too slow to be viable for commercial manufacturing.
“In addition, the low calorie nuts formed by state of the art processes are unappealing in texture and taste. The market has a compelling need for an economical process to rapidly prepare low calorie, low fat snack nuts that appeal to consumers.”
According to a report in FoodNavigator-USA.com, Apptec has developed a solvent-free ‘quasi-continuous’ high-speed physical process that “exhibits significantly lower process times and higher yields than the prior art processes”.
This involves expelling 20-50% of the oil from nutmeat kernels using a “novel pressing process that takes less than a minute”. The expelled oil is simultaneously removed and collected using a vacuum pump.
The deformed/flattened nuts are then reformed to their original shape using water and hardened using cold water, dried, coated and roasted.
Nachalur Natural peanuts – the first product to emerge using the patent-pending technology – have 30% less fat, 25% fewer calories and 20% more protein and fibre than regular peanuts and are available in three flavours, Sea Salt, Honey and Spicy.
In a publicity material promoting the low fat nuts, Apptec Health Food says: “Peanuts are one of the top-selling snack foods, yet consumers have an underlying concern about their high fat content…UNTIL NOW!
“Apptec Health Food has figured out a way to remove fat and calories from peanuts, while increasing protein and fibre, without losing the crunchy texture or great flavour found in regular peanuts.”
But does squeezing the fat out of nuts – which experts argue is responsible for a large proportion of their health benefits (nuts are particularly rich in healthy monounsaturated fats) – make sense from a nutritional perspective?
Dr Karen Lapsley, chief scientific officer at the Almond Board of California, says: “From a purely nutritional perspective, it’s debatable whether this makes sense, given that the monounsaturated fats in almonds play a role in some of their health benefits, most prominently the role they can play in a heart-healthy diet.
Meanwhile, Peanut Institute director Pat Kearney, MEd, RD, says the healthy oils in peanuts are key to their heart-healthy credentials. “The healthy oils in peanuts contribute to making them one of the heart-healthiest foods you can eat daily in small amounts to substantially reduce the risk of heart disease. Therefore, there is not a caloric problem with a serving of peanuts (about 160 calories).”
Apptec Health Foods VP marketing, Maggie Marchese, says the firm is targeting the natural specialty channel as it seeks to expand distribution for the nuts, and had conducted “extensive consumer research”, which showed that while consumers were aware that the fat in nuts is healthy, they wanted snacks with fewer calories. “We’re only squeezing out about 30% of the fat,” she said.