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The functionalfoods promote health beyond supplying basic nutrition. As a result, the functional foods are gaining popularity throughout the world. The growing consumer demand along with industry interest states that there is a great scope for functional foods in India.A huge amount of milk produced in India is utilized for manufacturing of traditional dairy products . Indian traditional dairy products have a significant demand and their domestic markets are well established. However, to compete and to sustain with the ever-increasing functional food market, Indian dairy industry should find ways to induce or to improve the functionality in traditional dairy products.Herbs and their extracts have a long history of usage as natural remedies for curing many health-related complications. Herbs have also found their usage in culinary purposes and some of them have been reported for their use in cheese, yoghurt and other food products. Since 1960, there has been an increased interest in “natural health” and it has propelled the consumption of natural remedies i.e. herbs and their preparations. A considerable portion of today’s functional food market consists of herbal supplemented functional foods .
Ayurveda;, Indian traditional medicinal literature, has prescribed several ways in which the medicinal benefits of herbs could be conveyed via certain foods as carriers. More than 50 medicated Ghee formulations made with incorporating different herbal preparations were reported in Ayurveda;. However, there is a very little or no literature reported regarding supplementation of herbs into other Indian dairy products to improve their functionality. In the recent past, traditional dairy products have received special attention from the R&D institutions. Research has been carried out to induce and/or
to improve the functionality of many Indian dairy products. Developments in the manufacture Indian dairy products with improved functionality, especially herbal supplemented Indian dairy products are depicted here.
Herbs contain high amounts of phenolic compounds which possess antioxidant properties. The natural antioxidant properties of herbs have made their use in the formulation of functional foods specifically targeted for the people suffering from cardio vascular diseases . The antioxidant properties of herbs also led their use into fat rich dairy products for retarding auto-oxidation there by prolonging the shelf-life. Moreover, it was found that the artificial antioxidants, like BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene) or BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole) are not safe for human consumption (suspected to have carcinogenic activity). On the other hand, increasing sensitivity of consumers to synthetic ingredients as well as their increasing awareness about the effect of diet on their health contributed to the increasing trend to use natural additives like herbal extracts for the stabilization of fat rich dairy foods like Ghee, butter oil, butter etc. Sage (Salvia officinalis) and Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) extracts are the most widely used for this purpose . These extracts have antioxidant activity many times stronger than synthetic antioxidants like BHA or BHT .
Milk fat, particularly Ghee has the characteristics to absorb all the medicinal properties of the herbs with which it is fortified, without losing its own attributes. About 60 medicated Ghee preparations used for the treatment of various diseases were
reported in Ayurvedicliterature .Recently, Arjuna Gheewas
developed at NDRI, Karnal by incorporating functional attributes
of Terminalia arjuna for providing beneficial effects against
cardiovascular diseases and the product was more stable to
oxidative deterioration as compared to control Ghee. Unlike in
case of medicated Ghee preparations, ArjunaGhee can be replaced
with normal Ghee in the daily diet. Pawar et al.  has successfully
increased the oxidative stability of Ghee by incorporating the
alcoholic and aqueous extracts of Satavariherb.
Research evidence supporting the health benefits of herbal
Ghee preparations is scanty. In a clinical study on antiasthamine
effects of vasaGhee(ghrit), Prasher reported that oral ingestion
of vasa Ghee was beneficial in reducing the risk of asthama. There
was marked improvement in 92.59% cases within 21 days of
study period. HPTLC studies have shown that vasicinone, an
antiasthamine agent present in Adhatodavasica was responsible
for antiasthamine effects of vasa Ghee. The authors have also
reported that vasa Ghee consumption also had an additional
benefit in reducing serum cholesterol level by 30.16%. Pharmaco
clinical studies showed that Panchtikta Ghee(ghrit) prepared with
different methods was beneficial in reducing the cardiovascular
diseases . A thorough study on the bioactive components
of herbs and effect of different processing conditions on them
during Ghee preparation could lead us to diversify the usage of
Ghee in a well-organized commercial way.
Aloe vera, an herb of the Liliaceae family has a long and
illustrious history dating from biblical times and given a high
ranking as an all-purpose herbal plant. Scientific investigations
on Aloe verahave gained more attention over the last several
decades due to its reputable medicinal properties . Lassi,
a ready-to-serve traditional fermented milk beverage has got
wide popularity in India as well as in overseas markets. Sweet
lassi with its characteristic sweet and slightly sour taste can be
used as a food carrier for herbal bioactives like Aloe verajuice.
Hussain et al.  has developed functional lassi using the herb
Aloe vera(Aloe barbadensis Miller). A culture combination
containing NCDC 60 and Lactobacillusparacseisspparacasei L
at an inoculum rate of 1 percent was used for functional lassi
preparation. Animal study of functional lassi revealed that it
has better immune protective effects compared to control lassi.
Recently, Pal et al.  also supplemented Aloe verajuice into
lassi to enhance its health benefits. The authors have reported
that supplementation of Aloe verajuice at 15% level into lassi has
obtained optimum sensory scores.
Herbal supplemented probiotic dahi using the herb Aloe
barbadensis Miller was also prepared by Hussain et al..
The authors have reported that Aloe verasupplementation
has supported the growth of probiotic strain Lactobacillus
paracseisspparacasei L in dahi. The probiotic viability was more
than 7 log cfu/ml during 12 days storage period.
Sandesh is a very popular heat-desiccated product of
coagulated milk protein mass called chhana. About 80% of
chhana produced in Kolkata (West Bengal, India) is converted
into sandesh. Incorporation of herbs into these kinds of highly
demanded dairy products will improve the health status of the
consumers. Bandyopadhyay et al.  incorporated herbs such
as turmeric (Curcuma longa L.), coriander (Coriandrum sativum
L.), curry leaf (Murrayakoenigii L.), spinach (Spinacia oleracea)
and aonla (Emblica officinalis), separately as a paste, at the 10%
level into Sandesh to induce the antioxidant properties into the
product. The antioxidative levels of these herbs were compared
with the synthetic antioxidants TBHQ and BHA: BHT (1:1) at 100
and 200mg/kg levels. The authors have reported that the total
antioxidative status of herbal sandesh was lower than samples
with TBHQ but like those with 200mg/kg BHA: BHT (1:1). The
authors have also reported that the use of coriander herb with its
antimicrobial and antioxidant properties increased the shelf-life
of herbalsandesh up to 8 days at (30±1°C) and 30 days at (7±1°C)
when compared with the remaining samples.
Shrikhand is a semi-soft, sweetish-sour, whole milk product
prepared from lactic fermented curd . Shrikhandis prepared
by admixing of sugar in required quantities with strained dahi
or concentrated dahi. Being a sweetish-sour and semi soft
product it can easily harbour herbs/herbal extracts without
undergoing significant quality changes.Landge et al.
successfully prepared shrikhand using Ashwagandha herb
powder as an additive. The authors have found that addition
of 0.5% Ashwagandha powder to shrikhand has improved the
organoleptic quality and the product was remained acceptable
up to 52 days at refrigerated temperatures.
Most of the Indian traditional dairy products contain
high amount moisture content besides harbouring valuable
nutrients. The high moisture content of these dairy products will
favour the growth of microorganisms leading to their spoilage.
Phenolic compounds of herbs are a good alternative for the
synthetic antimicrobial agents used in food industry. Phenolic
compounds namely, ferulic acid, tea catechins, oleuropein,
ellagic acid and p-coumaric acid have been reported to inhibit
the growth of pathogenic bacteria (Salmonella enteritidis,Staphylococcus aureus, Listeria monocytogenes) and fungi .
These antimicrobial properties herbs can be effectively utilized
to control the growth of unwanted/spoilage and pathogenic
microbes in Indian dairy products. Oleuropein derived from Olive tree has been reported to markedly inhibit the production
of aflotoxins . This property of oleuropein could be
advantageous in products like chhana and paneer where the
growth of moulds leading to mycotoxins production may present
health risk [19,20].
Herbs are considered as nature’s gift to human beings as
they can prevent and cure many illnesses. Herbs harbor a wide
variety of functional components which can perform wide range
of biological functionalities. In recent past, research regarding
functionality of herbal components, toxicology and their use
in food products has been the matter of interest. However,
depending upon the concentration and type, the incorporation
of herbs into food products may have certain undesirable effects
on their sensory, physico-chemical and textural properties
which in turn could affect their overall acceptability. Presently,
the herbal Gheebeing marketed in the global market is mostly
sold as medicine (medicinal Ghee), which is associated with
typical flavour, bitter or pungent taste and a dark colour. Such
therapeutic preparations are therefore not acceptable for routine
use. Incorporation of these nutraceuticals into food systems
may therefore calls for technological modifications/alterations
so that the sensory quality of the final product remains
unaltered.Furthermore, very limited information is available for
ascertaining the residual levels of these functional components
in herbal food preparations. Interactions of herbal and food
constituents on human health must be studied thoroughly. More
research should be directed towards the effect of processing
conditions on the bioavailability of functional components in
the herbs so that the processes will be designed in such a way
that little or no damage will occur to the functional components
during their incorporation into food matrix.