New Frontiers in Functional Foods

In a few weeks, the Institute of Food Technologists  Annual Meeting and Food Expo will showcase “The Best of Food Thinking 2009.”  This is where the major food and ingredient companies from around the globe will showcase the latest, greatest products — hoping to be the next big thing.  This month’s Food Technology journal has a preview of what will be unveiled at the meeting.   Here are a few highlights:sensara4

  • Beauty From Within.  Several companies will be touting ingredients for “beauty foods,” which appear to be coming on strong lately.  There’s even a session on the science of beauty foods, including the role of vitamins, essential amino acids and other nutraceuticals on skin health.
  • Fiber.  Looks like fiber will be a big deal on the exhibit floor — promoted for heart health, immunity and digestive health. It’s all about barley and oat beta-glucans, ancient grains, prebiotics, maltodextrin and gluco polysaccharides.
  • Joint Health. New “natural” remedies are on the way for arthritis and inflammatory diseases — ingredients that claim to stimulate cartilage tissue and ease joint pain.marigold3
  • Eye Health.  Could marigolds be the new super flower?  One company is touting a natural extract of marigold flowers that contain lutein and zeaxanthin — two carotenoids linked to eye health.  These are the same nutrients found in eggs (and there’s even an enriched egg that was co-developed by ophthalmologists).
  • Weight Management. With obesity a global health problem, numerous products are showcasing the ways they can be part of the solution.  Ingredients include CLA, which the company says can be used to make “marketable claims” about reducing body fat and increasing lean muscle.  Other ingredients are focused on satiety or appetite control, including Hi-Maize resistant starch and Slendesta potato extract.

chia-barOther major players appear to be probiotics and healthier fats, including companies touting various sources of DHA and EPA omega 3 fatty acids.  There’s even a high DHA omega-3 fortified brownie “positioned for the children’s nutrition market.”   Protein looks like it will be a hot nutrient on the exhibit floor, with whey-derived ingredients promoted for muscle strength and healthy skin.  The Chia Company will be there boasting about the wonders of this super seed — which is beginning to show up in a range of products.  But, you know how I feel about that…if you read my earlier post about chia seeds.

The article in Food Technology talks about a range of “forward thinking” new products that will be on display — probiotic ice cream, nutricosmetic licorice, heart-healthy chocolate chip muffins and satiety smoothies.  A conference like this is where it all starts.  So stay tuned — like it or not, these new fortified foods will be coming soon to a store near you.


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  • I attended an IFT conference years ago in New Orleans. After walking the exhibit floor for hours, at the end of the day all I wanted to eat or see was an apple, a carrot, a salad or something else that I could recognize as food.

    This is where processed foods begin and it’s also where they ought to stop. Most people have no idea what’s in their food. If we took all the money spent on advertising these new “food products” and put that into nutrition education and teaching people how to shop, cook and eat, the population as a whole would be far better off. Just one RD’s opinion.

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