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Ingredient Trends to Watch in 2009

Dec. 3, 2008
Functional ingredients for health are moving in two directions: a widening application of individual nutraceuticals and an increase in “condition marketing.”

Condition marketing has been growing as makers of foods and beverages increasingly recognize the interest consumers have in treating various health issues with foods.

Until recently, aging, heart health, bone health, digestive health, blood sugar management, brain health and energy were treated piecemeal. But the surge of the past few years in ingredients targeting baby boomers is taking condition marketing to the next level: multiple conditions addressed by single ingredients.

This also has fed the research into ingredients, old and new, addressing these same conditions. The hot ingredients for the coming years are those ingredients able to hook into the pull from condition marketing while benefiting from the push from research.

Vitamin K is one such ingredient. “Vitamin K2 has been shown clinically to reduce calcification of the art

Lutein has been shown to protect eyes against cataracts and macular degeneration. New research showing its protection against the affects of glare may prove a boon to outdoor activity-obsessed baby boomers.

eries and improve bone mass,” says Rodger Jonas, national business development manager for PL Thomas (www.plthomas.com), Morristown, N.J. PL Thomas’ MenaQ7, a natural vitamin K2, “actually helps move the calcium out of these areas and put it into the bones where it belongs,” he says. In one 10-year study, MenaQ7 reduced arterial calcification by 50 percent.

Decades of recognition of vitamin D and calcium for children’s bone health led boomers to realize staying young and active meant these compounds were needed not only for growing bones but aging ones. In addition, the closer look researchers gave D and calcium showed they were important to heart health, and calcium is showing benefit to colon health.

Fiber could also be headed for a jump based on some new studies of resistant starches. “I think the trend is that dietary fiber is becoming segmented into particular fibers and away from the commodity mindset that all fiber is the same," says Rhonda Witwer, senior business development manager for nutrition at National Starch Food Innovation (www.resistantstarch.com), Bridgewater, N.J.

“The FDA approval of only select dietary fibers for specific benefits, such as beta-glucan for cholesterol reduction, and not generic fiber for colon cancer helps set the stage for this.”

The newest point of differentiation for fiber, according to Witwer, are the benefits shown to result from fermentation of resistant starches, such as National Starch’s Hi-maize RS2 and Novelose RS3. Such starches have been shown to reduce cancer risk, increase insulin sensitivity, promote reduction of body fat through increased ability to metabolize fat and decreased deposition of fat for storage.
Fermentation, however, adds a new wrinkle. Although some published studies have shown conflicting data, there is some research that strongly indicates fermentation of resistant starches like Hi-maize and Novelose increases satiety.

On the cancer front, a UK study published in October showed that a combination of RS2 resistant starch and RS3 resistant starch reduced pre-cancer markers in patients with colorectal cancer. It did not impact the crypts or cancerous tissue, but instead it prevented normal tissue from becoming cancerous.

“This is a great study, as they also tracked the genetic expression of cancer-related genes,” says Witwer. “Several studies are now showing fermentation of natural resistant starch turns on genes that impact cancer development as well as satiety. It's a great nutrigenomics story that hasn't yet been told.”

Soy is yet another wellness ingredient due for a resurgence. Long known as a multitasker when it comes to helping heart health, women’s health and reducing cancer risk, soy and its isoflavones merited closer inspection because soy has become ubiquitous. Consumers know and trust soy and its components, today incorporating it as a “pantry” ingredient to be included in their diet throughout the year.

Multitasking takes off

Ingredients geared toward improving cognitive ability, lowering blood pressure, enhancing immunity and improving flavor and satiety are promising to change the image of modern foods and beverages.
“Consumers are interested in some nutrients for ‘insurance’ reasons, such as maintaining heart or bone health,” says Robert Berman, senior marketing manager for DSM Nutritional Products (www.dsm.com), Parsippany, N.J. “Consumers also are looking for benefits they can feel, recognizing it can take up to a month or more for those benefits to kick in.”

DSM’s Bonistein, a purified genestein (a well-studied soy isoflavone), functions on multiple levels, and short-term as well as long term. On one hand, it helps promote bone and joint health, but it also targets reduction of menopausal symptoms, such as hot flashes.

Some ingredients are straining at the gate as they await approval for use beyond supplements. Co-enzyme Q10 (CoQ10), an antioxidant critical to the conversion of food to energy, is synthesized in every cell and has become a common supplement over recent years, targeting heart health and long-term energy. New GRAS status and increased availability will make this ingredient one to watch for food and beverage processing in the next year or two.

Lipogen Ltd. (www.lipogen.co.il). makes phosphotidylserine — a functional constituent of brain membranes important for neural development and function — from lecithin. Lipogen is now bringing its phosphatidylserine (PS) ingredient to functional dairy products, targeting brain development for infants, memory and cognition for adults and seniors, and antidementia support for the elderly.

Botanical growth

In the early 1940s, truckloads of spinach were hauled into the chemistry department at the University of Texas. Scientists concentrated the mass of foliage to extract a compound they would name folic acid — a B vitamin now recognized as critical to growth, development, heart health and the prevention of neural tube defects in developing infants. 

Lycopene, a carotenoid from tomatoes, nearly won an FDA health claim for its role in preventing prostate cancer. Now it’s being studied for enhancing skin quality and eye health.

Today, the application of phytochemicals, those nutraceutical treasures derived mostly from plants, is being re-energized by an endless quest to discover more unknown ones, while delving deeper into the benefits of known ones.

This redoubling of research into phytochemicals is driving the interest in food ingredients aimed at specific areas of nutrition-related health.

Many beneficial ingredients derived from plants can negatively influence flavor, such as through bitterness. Nanoencapsulation, which facilitated the popularity of omega oils and some antioxidants via added solubility, also helps contain any off-flavors or colors from botanical compounds. It also protects plant-derived ingredients, which often are more susceptible to breakdown from the extreme conditions often involved in processing.

On the fringe

Another area where botanical ingredients are figuring large is the emerging “beauty from within” category. Certain antioxidants are being promoted for enhancing skin quality through ultraviolet light protection. Lycopene, a carotenoid from tomatoes that is largely associated with protection from cancers (especially prostate cancer) is one such antioxidant. The trend is further along in Europe and Asia, but making inroads here.

“In the U.S., some products already are in the market and some are still in planning,” says Zohar Nir, vice president of new product development and scientific affairs for LycoRed Corp.(www.lycored.com), Orange, N.J. “The evidence of therapeutical efficacy is strong — we have over 40 clinical studies on our Lyc-o-Mato lycopene and its formulations.”

Lycopene is in the class of carotenoid compounds being marketed for their eye health properties, as is lutein. While the preponderance of carotenoid and eye health research concerns protection against cataracts and macular degeneration, new research revealed lutein’s ability to protect against the affects of glare. For the growing demographic of outdoor activity-obsessed baby boomers, this could prove a growth area in nutraceuticals.

“The new visual performance benefits promise not only tremendous gains for drivers, sports enthusiasts and anyone spending time outdoors such as skiers, golfers, cyclists and pilots, but also for those millions who suffer from overexposure to fluorescent lights, computer monitors and other harsh indoor lighting,” says DSM’s marketing manager Aparna Parikh. DSM provides Floraglo and Optisharp lutein compounds.

Nanoencapsulation also recently widened application of another hot ingredient: probiotics. Bakery products, dairy foods, and ready-to-eat meals are closing the botanical gap with the advent of “live” ingredients that can survive extrusion and high heat processing.

As we go into the last year of the first decade of the 21st century, functional ingredients will only continue to increase their influence on food and beverage processing. “Food and beverage companies have a wonderful opportunity to significantly increase the value of their brands to consumers by adding nutrients to their products and related end-benefit information to the communications for those brands,” says DSM’s Berman.

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