Throughout the world, researchers working on nutrition-health, food formulation, sustainable agriculture or consumer behaviours are providing us with exciting new advancements in scientific knowledge.
In this Vitawatch bulletin: the role of diet in emotional health, unlocking the secrets of flavour persistence in the mouth, innovative imaging for reducing salt content, roasting and bitterness in cacao beans, the attitude of consumers to animal farming, using juicing by-products to make a coating for fresh fruit and vegetables, spraying bioactive molecules to limit the use of GMOs in agriculture…
Read on to find out more!
Diet and health
A fibre-rich diet could reduce the risk of dementia
In Japon, a research team from the University of Tsukuba has found that a diet rich in fibre is associated with a lower risk of dementia. To arrive at this conclusion, the research team used data from a wide-ranging study of more than 3500 adults between 1985 and 2020. The study’s subjects evaluated their diertary intake between 1985 and 1999, then their health was assessed between 1999 and 2020.
Through this study, the scientists were able to examine if there were differences between soluble and insoluble fibre. It appears that the link between intake of fibre and dementia is more pronounced for soluble fibre.
“The mechanisms are currently unknown but might involve the interactions that take place between the gut and the brain,” says Professor Yamagishi, the research leader. “One possibility is that soluble fiber regulates the composition of gut bacteria. This composition may affect neuroinflammation, which plays a role in the onset of dementia. It’s also possible that dietary fiber may reduce other risk factors for dementia, such as body weight, blood pressure, lipids, and glucose levels. The work is still at an early stage, and it’s important to confirm the association in other populations.”
Formulation / process
Unlocking the secrets of secrets of aroma persistence in the mouth
A team from the Centre for the Sciences of Taste and Feeding in Dijon has associated in vivo and ex vivo approaches in order to show that oral mucous membranes play a major role in aroma persistence in the mouth.
These results, which are contrary to current thought on the molecular origins of aromatic persistence, could allow researchers to explain the differences between individual perception. They could also lead to the ability to module the remanence of aromas in our food.
An innovative imaging technique for reduced salt levels in food
A research team from the TRANSFORM department of INRAE Clermont-Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes has been studying the reduction of salt in food. In order to reduce salt levels in industrial processes, the team has used Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR), to develop an innovative system for mapping how salt is spread throughout the food and to measure its interaction with the product.
The results show that certain foods contain several “populations” of salt, each interacting in different ways with the food. The method has also allowed the team to quantify the spread of salt. These variations in interactions and spread means that predictions can be made as to signification variations in salt perception.
More intense roasting of cacao beans reduces bitterness and enhances the taste of chocolate
The Sensory Evaluation Department of Penn State University (United Staes) has been studying the effects of roasting on chocolate taste.
After selecting beans of three origins (Madagascar, Ghana and Peru), harvested in 2018 and 2019, and roasting them at varying intensities, the research team submitted 27 100% chocolate preparations to a panel of 145 consumers.
“Our research was intended to learn about bitterness perception and the liking of chocolate made from cacao roasted with a variety of roasting profiles to see if wide consumer acceptability of 100% chocolate is possible. A chocolate maker doesn’t have many other options to influence the flavor quality of 100% chocolate except to vary how he or she roasts the beans, and our results show optimal roasting can adequately reduce bitterness,” explains Helene Hopfer, research team member.
These results are significant regarding trends showing consmers interested in reducing sugar levels, and increasingly turning to dark chocolate, but that they find to bitter to enjoy.
Understanding the evolution of Dutch attitudes to animal farming: three quarters of consumers intend to reduce their meat intake
In the Netherlands only 5% of Dutch consumers declare themselves to be vegetarian and the national average annual consumption of meat per person is 76% per person. However, a study lead by Kieskompas and VU University of Amsterdam has shown that animal production is less and less well-perceived by Dutch consumers. 72% of consumers think that meat production should be limited, with a primary consideration for animal welfare (86%). The following considerations were avoiding food shortages, climate change and reducing the risk of transmission of zoonotic diseases. “That this motivation is now carried by 80% of the population, on a par with climate change, is quite a testament to the increasing recognition of the role of animal production systems in the emergence and spread of new diseases,” explains Pablo Moleman of the Dutch association ProVeg, that backed the research.
It can be noted that the study also revealed that 60% of Dutch people surveyed were favourable to banning industrial farming.
In fact, “a growing number of consumers are moving towards products that can help them reduce their meat intake, and businesses are reinventing the idea of meat by finding new plant-based and cell-based techniques for producing meat products. I think that this sector is probably the the biggest opportunity from both a carbon reduction and a business perspective,” says Pablo Moleman.
Food safety / Packaging
2 coating solutions for extending shelf life of fresh fruits and vegetables
- “Yellow is the new brown”: a protective coating for fresh products based on byproduits of fruit and vegetable juicing
Lidl Switzerland and the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology (EMPA) have developed a cellulose-based protective coating for fruit and vegetables. This coating is made from the solid residue of fruit and vegetable juice extraction (called “pomace), and has the dual interest of reducing plastic packaging and prolonging the shelf life of fresh fruits and vegetables, thus reducing food waste.
“The coating is either sprayed onto the fruit or applied to the produce as a dip and is easy to wash off. It is harmless to the consumer, it can be consumed without harm. The potential of cellulose coatings is by no means exploited yet; there is the possibility of adding additives such as vitamins or antioxidants,” says EMPA.
- A revolutionary formulation containing corn zein and other plant-based, upcycled ingredients has been deemed suitable for fresh fruits
Akorn Technology has announced that its edible coatings for fresh produce have been approved for use in the European Union (EU) on fresh fruit with either edible skin or inedible peel.
Akorn’s proprietary, revolutionary formulation containing corn zein and other plant-based, upcycled ingredients has been deemed suitable for use for the surface treatment of tree and pome fruit, stone fruit, tropical fruit, citrus and melons, among others. Akorn enables sustainable agriculture and production and drives higher food security and improved nutrition. Its coatings cut moisture, rot, and decay losses in half in the supply chain and offer a plug-and-play solution fresh produce growers, packers and shippers want to adopt.
A new technology for improving crops without genetic modification
Although GMOs can be an effective means of fighting against pests, it is expensive and suffers from considerable pushback from consumers.
The Riken Center for Sustainable Resources Science (CSRS) in Japon has developed an easy to use spray that can have the same effects as a GMO. The principle is a spray that diffuses bioactive polecules that send nanoparticles into the plant through its leaves in order to modify or deactivate certain genes. The spray is able to target specific structures such as the mitochondria or chloroplast, which are important for regulating the plant’s resistance to parasiste, thus allowing it to better resist certain pests.
The research program has not yet concluded, but the initial results are very promising as they indicate it is possible to protect the plant against parasites without using GMOs.