Market awash with new heart-healthy ingredients

By Susan Birks

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Omega-3 fatty acids, Nutrition

Market awash with new heart-healthy ingredients
It seems cholesterol lowering ingredients are the hot area at the moment. Perhaps not surprisingly, with cardiovascular disease being the leading...

It seems cholesterol lowering ingredients are the hot area at the moment. Perhaps not surprisingly, with cardiovascular disease being the leading cause of mortality globally, according to the World Health Organisation. Foods designed to prevent heart disease are growing at rate of 7.6 % year-on-year, according to market researcher Datamonitor and it forecasts UK sales could reach £158m by 2007.

Hoping to reap a share of this market, Danish ingredient supplier Chr. Hansen has developed a new lactic acid bacteria for use in yoghurts that will lower high blood pressure. The health effect of the bacteria, named Cardi-04, has been demonstrated in clinical animal studies.

Chr. Hansen's chief science officer Peter Olesen says: "I believe we will soon be able to offer healthy foods that reduce blood pressure in a natural way. Our studies so far show that the effect of Cardi-04 is very significant."

The company has already filed a patent on the material and hopes food products with Cardi-04 will be available on supermarket shelves within a couple of years.

Meanwhile, scientists in Taiwan say extract of the hibiscus flower may have the same cholesterol lowering benefits as red wine and tea.

Hibiscus extract, already used in the Far East to colour and flavour beverages, contains many of those same antioxidant compounds found in red wine that are believed to help prevent 'bad' cholesterol.

A study on rats by Chau-Jong Wang from the Chung Shan Medical University in the Republic of China, published in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, showed that hibiscus extract has the same antioxidant effect and could therefore have similar health benefits when consumed in food and drink.

Claiming such benefits on pack is always difficult for manufacturers, however. But omega-3 suppliers will be cheered by the news that the US Food and Drug Administration has approved a health claim for omega-3 fatty acids against heart disease (see column right). While companies await to see what will happen in Europe, omega-3 supplier Nu-Mega Ingredients says it is lobbying the Food Standards Agency to review its current consumer guidelines for omega-3 intakes.

It wants advice for omega-3 intake other than from oily fish to be included in the dietary guidelines. In particular, it wants omega-3 enriched foods such as eggs and juice to be mentioned to encourage consumption among those consumers who don't like fish.

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