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Novel foods for health

Imagine your favourite food indulgence is now healthy. It may not be long before that will be a reality.

Discovering innovative food products and improving existing products has the potential to improve our diets. Crop & Food Research is developing new foods capable of delivering diverse arrays of nutrients, particularly for specific sectors of the population. New foods are being created from novel interactions of proteins, carbohydrates and lipids from a range of raw material sources. The new food matrices can take on the texture and appearance of familiar, well-liked foods, providing healthier eating options. Best of all, consumer science is being used to ensure these functional foods taste and look good.

The new food products may be, for example, low in fat and high in beneficial components like omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants and fibre. They can be specifically developed for people interested in controlling anaemia, reducing cancer risk, improving heart health and enhancing mood. One of the products that has been patented has several of these properties.

Some of the raw materials for these innovative products come from underutilized resources and will add value to primary products.

These new products are set to tantalize our tastebuds, but how do consumers and people with special dietary needs know what foods will benefit them? Nutrient information will assist in the selection of our food.

Crop & Food Research has developed and maintained the New Zealand Food Composition database which it operates and co-owns in partnership with the Ministry of Health. For several years, information gained in nutrition research has been incorporated into the database. Today, it lists nutrient information for more than 2400 foods consumed in New Zealand. This information is used for nutrition labels, and by the Ministry of Health for public health policy development. It is also used in food product development, and product and diet analyses.

On-line access is being further developed and will include information sets for people with specific dietary interests. For example, a new measure that more accurately reflects how foods affect blood sugars has been developed. It is expected to be of considerable benefit to people monitoring glycaemia, like diabetics and sports people seeking improved performances. Work is underway to include this information as part of the database and make it widely available. (source – Crop & Food)

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