Polytechnics work to give products a healthy twist

Next month, Par International Holdings, a commodity-based trading company, will be launching a new product, low glycaemic index (GI) bread.

What is unique about this bread is that it was developed in collaboration with staff and students from Republic Polytechnic.

It is one of four polytechnics here involved in the HPB's Finest Programme. The others are Temasek Polytechnic, Singapore Polytechnic and Nanyang Polytechnic.

A low GI means that the food is digested slowly.

Food with low GI helps to stabilise blood sugar levels and regulate the body's overall metabolism, said Ms Tan Zhen Lin, an academic staff and trained dietitian at Republic Polytechnic.

As bread typically has a high GI of 70, the new product, with a GI of 47, will be suitable for people who want to eat healthier bread, she said.

Such industry collaborations are routine at the polytechnic and it has developed a number of products over the years, she said.

For instance, its students and staff collaborated with Eu Yan Sang, a traditional Chinese medicine company, to come up with three herbal drinks. These drinks have been sold in Eu Yan Sang stores since 2010.

Ms Tan said people are always fascinated with food that tastes good and is healthy too and the polytechnic is working actively with industry partners to develop such food.

She added that healthy snacks is a sector that is currently gaining steam.

She said: "People gravitate to such products as they want to get nutrients while indulging."

Republic Polytechnic recently completed a project with Polar Puffs and Cakes to formulate a wholegrain, reduced sugar Swiss roll.

Swiss rolls are the most popular of Polar's products and by making them healthier, they can be a guilt-free snack, said Ms Tan.

The product will be out in the market soon, she said.

Each roll contains about 16g, or slightly more than half a serving of whole grains. Two to three out of five to seven servings of carbohydrates eaten daily should come from wholegrain products.

The product contains 11.6g of sugar per serving, which is less than the 40 to 55g of the daily sugar intake recommended by the Health Promotion Board.

Ms Tan said the snack both satisfies a sweet tooth and increases a person's wholegrain intake, making it appealing for those who are watching their diet and those on a restrictive diet due to age or medical conditions.

The students are now working on developing a high satiety snack bar, which makes a person feel full for a longer time. It will be made from soluble fibre inulin, oats (which have insoluble fibre), flaxseeds (which contain omega-3 fatty acid) and quinoa (which contain protein).

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