LAS VEGAS (IFT) — Americans increasingly want more ethnic foods and ingredients in their diets, many of which offer unique flavor and texture, and a variety of health benefits, according to a presentation at IFT’s Annual Meeting & Food Expo in Las Vegas.
“As the American palette has evolved and become more accustomed to a wider variety of spices and flavors, consumers are ready for and desiring more ethnic foods,” said Sarah V. Kirkmeyer, PhD, director of sensory for North America at Givaudan Flavors Corp.
“Very authentic and regional cuisines are becoming very popular,” said Janet Carver, senior culinary team leader at Ingredion, Inc. “Not just Chinese, but Thai, Korean, and foods from other countries and regions." Many television food shows and competitions reflect this trend, as they increasingly highlight “fusion” or “global mash up” cooking, which use the ingredients of many cultures and regions.
Ethnic foods and ingredients offer powerful, distinct flavors, as well as unique nutritional and health benefits, said Carver. “Everyone wants to enjoy their food; they also want it to be flavorful and healthy.”
“Studies increasingly support health benefits of different spices” that are often found in ethnic cuisine, said Diego Serrano, director of product development at McCormick & Co. “Ethnic recipes can deliver over two grams of spices and herbs per serving.” For example, Indian food typically contains twice as many spices as usual American fare.
A September 2010 Journal of Pain study reported that ginger, found in many Asian foods, reduces muscle pain and soreness. In addition, cinnamon may help maintain healthy blood sugar levels; and turmeric, ginger and garlic may block fat absorption. Oregano has as many antioxidants as three cups of spinach.
Also, many regional vegetables and spices can be used in place of salt, and/or to limit the need or amount of fat. “If you balance out flavors (salty, sweet, hot and bitter), you can reduce salt and fat without diminishing flavor,” said Carver.