Nutritionists are nearly unanimous in recommending that Americans should eat significantly more omega-3 fatty acids and consume them in foods, not in vitamin pills. The health-promoting fats are found in fish and some other food sources. But if we don’t like fish, can’t prepare it well, can’t afford it more often, or all of the above, what are we to do?
Food scientist Julian McClements and colleagues at the University of Massachusetts Amherst Center for Health & Wellness are now investigating more economical and reliable ways to incorporate omega-3 fatty acids into foods. They’re developing new microgel capsules to trap the omega-3 fatty acids, chemically stabilize them to prevent spoilage, and allow them to be easily incorporated in beverages, yogurts, dressings, desserts and ice cream, for example. All this without sacrificing taste, appearance or texture. Among other things, omega-3s are essential for normal growth in children and a recognized aid to heart health in adults.
In previous studies, McClements, an expert in food-based delivery systems, and his co-workers found that certain milk and soy proteins are good at preventing omega-3 fatty acids from going rancid. The researchers now want to find a way to economically produce large amounts of powdered omega-3 microgel particles rich in these anti-oxidant proteins from food-grade materials. To do this, they’re concentrating on new “structural” techniques for surrounding the delicate fish oils in a protective biopolymer microgel of water, antioxidant protein, and dietary fiber. These microgel particles resemble the familiar gelatin dessert, Jell-o, except that they’re microscopic.
Food as medicine is an unfamiliar concept to many American consumers, according to McClements and Eric Decker, chair of the UMass Amherst food science department and co-director of its Center for Health & Wellness. Many don’t remember the first wave of nutraceuticals introduced in the 1940s and 1950s when vitamin-fortified flour, cereals and milk were “unbelievably successful” in eliminating once-common diseases such as goiter and rickets caused by vitamin deficiencies, Decker notes.
While it’s becoming more common to hear of consumers picking up blueberry juice as a hedge against memory loss or whole-grain bread to ward off colon cancer, the United States remains one of the least receptive societies to the idea of food as preventive medicine compared to places like Japan and New Zealand. Nevertheless, because of their public health value, nutraceuticals are becoming a “hot topic” among North American nutritionists and food scientists.
The new generation of food scientists hopes to build on the earlier successes to address modern public health problems, more widespread but perhaps no less disabling and costly to society – obesity, diabetes, heart disease, osteoporosis, cancer. Specifically, UMass Amherst researchers like McClements are not only looking at cheaper, more reliable ways to incorporate nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids in food, but at molecules known as phytosterols from oats, for example, that can lower cholesterol, and flavonoids in orange peel that show promise for killing cancer cells.
With recent new grants from the USDA, McClements is already looking ahead to the next big thing in nutraceuticals: Time-release nanolaminated coatings around fat droplets for delivery at different levels in the human body. For example, he and colleagues are learning to coat droplets with dietary fibers so some will break down in the mouth to deliver flavor immediately while others break down in the stomach or small intestine to deliver peptides that signal fullness or satiety.
Still others might be designed not to break down until they reach the large intestine, where the laminated droplets would deliver anti-hypertensive or cancer-fighting food compounds that can’t survive digestive acids in the stomach. By manipulating food structure, McClements and other food scientists are also exploring ways to increase solubility in the small intestine so more of the nutrients are absorbed.
“More studies are needed before we can justify further work on tailoring foods to match an individual’s genetic makeup,” McClements adds, but that’s coming, as well, he predicts.
Europeans will readily pay more for food that promises to boost health, Decker observes. And in the past 20 years Japan has launched one of the most far-reaching public health campaigns anywhere, to increase nutraceutical consumption to control heart-disease-related health care costs and other problems. Watch for international food companies to team up with food science programs like the Health and Wellness Center at UMass Amherst to do the same.
David Julian McClements | Newswise Science News
Further reports about: > Cancer > Diabetes > Health > Nutraceuticals > Tasty Microgels > Wellness > anti-oxidant proteins > cholesterol > fatty acids > flavonoids > food science > food sources > heart disease > microgels > nanolaminated coatings > omega-3 fatty acids > osteoporosis > public health > vitamin pills
3D images of cancer cells in the body: Medical physicists from Halle present new method
16.05.2018 | Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg
Better equipped in the fight against lung cancer
16.05.2018 | Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg
At the LASYS 2018, from June 5th to 7th, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) will be showcasing processes for the laser material processing of tomorrow in hall 4 at stand 4E75. With blown bomb shells the LZH will present first results of a research project on civil security.
At this year's LASYS, the LZH will exhibit light-based processes such as cutting, welding, ablation and structuring as well as additive manufacturing for...
There are videos on the internet that can make one marvel at technology. For example, a smartphone is casually bent around the arm or a thin-film display is rolled in all directions and with almost every diameter. From the user's point of view, this looks fantastic. From a professional point of view, however, the question arises: Is that already possible?
At Display Week 2018, scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP will be demonstrating today’s technological possibilities and...
So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics
Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...
The historic first detection of gravitational waves from colliding black holes far outside our galaxy opened a new window to understanding the universe. A...
A team led by Austrian experimental physicist Rainer Blatt has succeeded in characterizing the quantum entanglement of two spatially separated atoms by observing their light emission. This fundamental demonstration could lead to the development of highly sensitive optical gradiometers for the precise measurement of the gravitational field or the earth's magnetic field.
The age of quantum technology has long been heralded. Decades of research into the quantum world have led to the development of methods that make it possible...
02.05.2018 | Event News
13.04.2018 | Event News
12.04.2018 | Event News
23.05.2018 | Life Sciences
23.05.2018 | Life Sciences
23.05.2018 | Physics and Astronomy