Probiotics once appeared mostly in yogurt, plugged by Jamie Lee Curtis in television commercials (and mocked on Saturday Night Live). Now, new cereals, snacks and beverages from Kraut Krisps to Gut Punches and Wellness Waters are featuring the microorganisms touted to help digestive and immune systems function.
Mariani’s Probiotic Prunes say they “deliver active cultures 10 times more effectively than yogurt.” Brad’s Raw Foods LLC’s kale chips has added “shielded probiotics to promote digestive and immune health.” The number of food products in the U.S. making a probiotic-related claim has nearly tripled to more than 500 in the last five years, according to food market research firm Innova Market Insights.
The additions come as consumers are looking for medicinal, in addition to nutritional, benefits from their food. “People now want food to be functionally formulated, not just delicious,” says Elizabeth Moskow, culinary director for food consultancy Sterling-Rice Group in Boulder, Colo. Many stores stock the probiotic-infused foods, but some retailers filter the offerings, skeptical of some of the claims that otherwise less-healthy foods may make.
New strains of probiotics don’t require refrigeration. These newer spore-forming strains produce coated cell structures that help extend probiotics’ shelf life. Still, most probiotics can’t survive heat, processing or air exposure and often degrade with time. Read more