Nutraceticals are nutrients that have been extracted from plants and foods that offer specific health benefits. The freeze drying process is used to stabilise, concentrate and/or increase the shelf-life of these products without destroying their chemical structure.
The freeze drying process was developed during the Second World War for preserving medical supplies that needed refrigerating. Since then freeze drying has been applied to industries including pharmaceutical, biotech and food.
Nutraceutical Freeze Drying Process
Freeze drying uses a process called lyophilization to gently freeze the product, and then the water is extracted in the form of vapour using a high-pressure vacuum. The vapour collects on a condenser below the freezing chamber, returns to ice and is removed. A gradual temperature rise extracts all remaining ‘bound’ moisture from the product. This process retains the chemical structure of the product and preserves it indefinitely. The freeze dried products can be re-hydrated at any time by adding water, or can be consumed in their dried format.
Advantages of Freeze Drying Nutraceuticals
With freeze drying, liquids can also be preserved, which turns them into powder while retaining the nutrients and flavours of the original product. This is how many nutraceuticals are freeze dried. This process also concentrates the product, increasing their potency compared with their natural form.
Freeze dried nutraceuticals don’t require refrigeration or chemical preservatives and can be converted to tablet or capsule form to make consumption easy.
This is useful for nutraceuticals such as wheat grass or echinacea which can taste unpleasant. Freeze-dried nutraceuticals are easy to store and transport as their volume and weight can be reduced significantly.
Regular drying methods have a major disadvantage as the high temperatures used can cause chemical or physical changes to the product.
For delicate plant extracts, this could render them inedible or affect the efficacy of the end product.
Nutraceuticals Suitable For Freeze Drying
- Aloe vera
- Bean and vegetable sprouts (e.g. mung bean, broccoli)
Cuddon designs and manufactures freeze drying machines for sale worldwide.