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Sept. 5, 2013 Volume 35, No. 3

Putting the orange in meatballs

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Researcher Ayca Gedikoglu explores how to make popular foods more healthful. Photo by Steve Depolo.

CAFNR researcher adds healthful citrus fiber to an Italian favorite

Americans don’t get enough fiber in their fast food diets, doctors say, which can cause various health problems. 

A graduate student at the University of Missouri is doing her part to get fiber into people’ diet. Her plan? Creating a hybrid of meatballs and oranges. 

Ayca Gedikoglu, a PhD candidate in food science at the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources, tested various amounts of citrus fibre in ground beef meatballs. Her intention is to see if the fiber, with its accompanying health benefits, adversely changes the texture and cooking characteristics of the meatballs.

The citrus is one more ingredient to making the meatballs. 

In one test, Gedikoglu divided lean round into three sets of meatballs. Into one set she added citrus powder equaling one percent of the meat’s weight. The other sets got 5 percent and 10 percent citrus. Everything then headed for the oven.

So how did the orange-laced meatballs come out? Fiber increased the cooking yield of the meatballs — meaning orange-beef meatballs were heftier than their equivalent beef-alone meatballs, Gedikoglu said. Citrus fiber added a little red and yellow coloring to the meatballs, but this was also acceptable, particularly at the 1 percent and 5 percent citrus levels.

Beginning this fall, Gedikoglu will put her meatballs to taste tests with Mizzou students, faculty and staff. She will also evaluate citrus powder’s potential antioxidant benefits. “Citrus fruits, particularly their peels, are rich with flavonoids,” she said. “I am going to evaluate the presence of these antioxidants, their antioxidant power and also their potential to reduce lipid oxidation in ground beef meatballs.”

— Randy Mertens