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Antioxidants: Super Ingredient?

24 Feb

Whether we realize it or not, everyone is exposed to oxidation. Oxidation is a natural process, which can cause free radicals to form in the body and do damage on body’s cells. Antioxidants have been proven to reverse the process by ridding the body of free radicals. For the average consumer, receiving an adequate amount of antioxidants per day is increasingly difficult. Recently, consumers have become increasingly interested in antioxidants as a functional ingredient. With so many consumers looking to reverse the aging process and retain their youth, antioxidants have proven to be a powerful marketing tool for many beverage companies. Last year alone, over 250 antioxidant beverages were launched. While the most common antioxidants are Vitamin C and Vitamin E, there are over 30 antioxidants which could be used as a beverage additive. According to Wild Flavors Inc., the most requested antioxidant ingredients are apple, tea and yerba mate. Among consumers, the most popular antioxidants are green tea and black tea. Green tea extract and flavanoids are more potent than traditional antioxidants like Vitamin C and they have a lot of potential as a functional ingredient. Consumers who are looking for more natural ingredients tend to prefer herbal antioxidant ingredients, such as grape seed, hibiscus, elderberry, and pomegranate.

 

As consumer awareness has grown about the power of antioxidants, companies such as POM wonderful have experienced tremendous growth. Aside from pomegranate, blueberry is another promising ingredient for beverage companies looking to expand into the antioxidant market. With so many consumers looking for healthy, natural products, antioxidant products seem to be the way to go. Beverage companies can formulate antioxidants from a variety of ingredients, making for a very versatile application of this trend. To learn more about the growing popularity of antioxidants, read this article from BevIndustry.

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Nutrition Spotlight: Caffeine and L-theanine in Tea

2 Jan

According to a Unilever study recently reported in a Food Navigator-USA article, there is evidence to support the notion that compounds in tea, primarily caffeine and L-theanine, can be beneficial for one’s mood and mental focus.

Despite the European Food Safety Authority’s recent rejections of two Unilever health claims petitions (13.1 and 13.5) which linked black tea consumption to improved mental focus, the company is continuing its extensive research on the many benefits of tea consumption. Suzanne Einother and Vanessa Martens, employed at Unilever Research and Development, Vlaardingen (the Netherlands), are responsible for a recent review in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition which, concerning a number of studies of tea consumption, notes “particularly consistent evidence for improved attention” throughout. They added that tea “consistently improved self-reported alertness and arousal” among subjects.

“These studies,” they said, “showed the validity of laboratory findings by supporting the idea that tea consumption has acute benefits on both mood and performance in real-life situations.”

The review was first formally presented on September 19th, 2012, at the Fifth International Scientific Symposium on Tea and Human Health in Washington, D.C.

Scientific research of tea has long focused on green tea, the benefits of which are well-documented and include improving oral and cardiovascular health, aiding in weight-management and reducing the risks of Alzheimer’s disease and some forms of cancer.

Black tea is simply green tea which is oxidized by fermentation, and contains between 3% and 10% of water-extractable polyphenols; original green tea, by comparison, contains between 30% and 40%. Fresh tea leaves contain four primary extractable polyphenols: epicatechin, epicatechin gallate, epigallocatechin and epigallocatechin gallate.

Unilever’s research, however, has focused more on L-theanine, an amino acid extracted from tea leaves, and caffeine. L-theanine is believed to help reduce stress while improving one’s quality of sleep. Since it is found in very low concentrations (less than 2%) in tea leaves, drinking tea cannot deliver effective dosage levels of 100 to 200 milligrams per day.

In the past, L-theanine has been linked to other various health effects, including improved attention, relaxation and certain “neuro-protective” effects. For example, it has been suggested that the amino acid is responsible for increased alpha activity during rest (as shown in EEG models), which can improve relaxation.

In the new review, Einother and Martens used data from randomized control trials focusing on tea’s effects on attention and mood.

“From the totality of research on tea summarized,” they wrote, “[…] it can be concluded that consumption of black tea may improve attention and self-reported alertness. These conclusions are further supported by studies on caffeine and on theanine and caffeine in combination.”

They are quite clear, however, about the pockets of uncertainty which remain for the time being: “Research on the benefits of tea is promising for attention and alertness, although questions remain regarding the scope and magnitude of impact as well as the sensitivity of different individuals. Whereas the bioavailability of both caffeine and theanine has been established, as well as the [suggested] mechanisms of action in the brain, they extent to which they actually cross the blood-brain barrier in humans and how much this is associated with [individual] changes in subsequent performance and mood measures are as yet unknown.”

http://www.foodnavigator-usa.com/Trends/Health-Wellness/Unilever-on-tea-Available-evidence-supports-tea-and-tea-ingredients-for-mood-and-performance-benefits

Ingredient Spotlight: Benefits of Beetroot Juice

27 Dec

A Nutra-Ingredients article has recently reported the findings of a study of nitrate-rich beetroot juice; in a study using trained female runners, it was determined that drinking the juice for four days leading up to a running time-trial could greatly improve the runner’s performance.

As little as 140 milliliters per day of beetroot juice proved beneficial for systolic blood pressure and, in turn, a runner’s 5-kilometer performance, as determined by scientists at Sheffield Hallam University.

“Although not statistically significant,” they wrote, “these results suggest beetroot juice supplementation improved 5-km time trial performance over PLA by 31 s (2.4%). Athletes should consider ingesting beetroot juice to improve 5-km running performance.”

The study of beetroot juice and its potential nutritional and cardiovascular benefits has gained momentum in recent years, especially in the United Kingdom. In past studies, scientists from the University of Exeter (U.K.) found that beetroot juice could help individuals increase stamina and exercise for as much as 16% longer; scientists at the University of Maastricht have noted similar improvements in performance among cyclists. Publications in the Journal of Applied Psychology have suggested that the juice’s nitrate content, which helps reduce oxygen uptake, may be responsible for easing [quite effectively] the “tiring effect” of exercising.

That particular study was led by Professor Andy Jones, who offered a brief summary: “Our study is the first to show that nitrate-rich food can increase exercise endurance. We were amazed by the effects of beetroot juice on oxygen uptake because these effects cannot be achieved by any other known means, including training.”

In the new study, led by Robyn Lancely and her co-workers, a double-blind “crossover design” with repeated measures a two-week washout period was used to determine whether supplementation of beetroot juice would affect 5-km running time-trial performance.

Eleven trained female runners with an average age of 20 were assigned to receive 140 mL of the juice per day, as compared to no supplementation and a placebo. While there were no major differences in systolic blood pressure among the groups, the researchers identified a trend toward reductions following consumption of the juice; those who consumed it had an average value of 114 mmHg, compared to 122 mmHg for the control intervention and 120 mmHg for the placebo intervention.

“One km split times were similar between conditions except for the 2nd km where beetroot juice was faster than control by 16 seconds and placebo by 12 seconds.”

http://www.nutraingredients.com/Research/Beetroot-juice-supplementation-may-boost-time-trial-performance

Power Brands Reviews: Dairy May Help Protect Muscle Mass

16 Sep

A recent article on the daily Rx reports that dairy products may play a role in preserving muscle mass says Power Brands, a leading beverage industry expert. The article ‘Got Dairy?’ reports that eating and drinking more dairy products may help protect the elderly from losing muscle mass. When you lose muscle mass, adds Power Brands, you are more prone to fractures and other similar injuries.

In actual fact, a current study found that older women who ate more dairy had greater physical performance and more muscle mass compared to woman who ate less dairy. The research was directed by Kun Zhu, PhD, in the Department of Endocrinology and Diabetes in Sir Charles Gardiner Hospital in Nedlands, Western Australia. There were 1,456 women between the ages of 70 and 85 that were tested. The researchers study involved examining the results of dairy intake and any association with physical performance and body composition.

The study involved measuring daily consumption using a food frequency survey. According to the daily Rx article, participants reported how much dairy they consumed in the last 12 months plus portion sizes. Dairy includes milk, cheese and yogurt, adds Power Brands.

The participants were then placed in one of three categories: more than 2.2 servings per day, 1.5 to 2.2 servings per day and less than 1.5 servings per day. In addition; height, body weight, BMI (body mass index) and body composition (lean and fat mass) measurements were taken. Rendering the daily Rx article, lean mass was categorized as the weight of everything in the body except for the weight of the head, bones and fat.

The researchers determined physical performance by measuring mobility (movement) and hand grip strength. Participants also reported the number of falls they had within the past three months. A participants smoking status and physical activity were also analyzed in the research.

Overall Findings

The researchers found that women who had 1.5 or more servings of dairy per day had considerably greater skeletal muscle mass  and whole body lean mass than women who had less than 1.5 servings per day. The researchers also found that hand grip strength was greater in women who had 2.2 servings of dairy a day compared to women who had less than 2.2 servings of dairy per day.

The study also concluded that there was no association between dairy intake and the amount of time it took to complete a mobility test. As well, there was no significant association found between dairy intake and number of falls.

Other Professional Input

 

Deborah Gordon, MD, a preventive medicine and nutrition expert not associated with the research told dailyRX, “There are a number of fascinating connections that appear in the details of this study”. Her conclusions are as follows:

  • Women who consumed more dairy (712 grams or around 25 ounces) were quite different than the group of women who consumed the lowest amount of dairy (210 grams or about 7.4 ounces)
  • Dairy lovers as a group ate more calories, fat and protein – the protein difference being primarily in dairy protein.
  • Dairy lovers were less likely to drink regularly and engaged in significantly more physical activity than the dairy minimizers

Dr. Gordon explained that some degree of sarcopenia (muscle loss) is unavoidable with aging. However, Dr. Gordon added that the extent to which muscle loss can be minimized and possibly reversed is in correlation to how vigorous and energetic she is as she ages. Dr. Gordon concludes that the study suggests woman who have a healthy appetite and partake in regular physical activity are investing in their sturdiness as they aging.

Overall Conclusion on Study

Based on their findings, dairy may be connected to better physical performance and more lean mass in older women. For further reading you can find full details of the study online in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

For further reading of the daily Rx article, go to Got Dairy?, adds Power Brands.

Nutrient Found in Shellfish and Beets May Enhance Athletic Performance

6 Aug

According to Darin Ezra, a beverage consultant at Power Brands, adding a particular nutrient found in beets and shellfish to a sports drink could potentially enhance athletic performance.

In the U.K., research from Exeter University in the past has shown beetroot juice to have such an effect, due to its rather potent nitrate levels. Recently, scientists have been looking more into “betaine,” another nutrient. In New York, researchers at Ithaca College have determined that when added to a sports drink in tablet or powder form, betaine can improve athletic performance by nearly six-percent.

Sixteen cyclists of university age, both men and women, participated in the study. They were tested three separate times to measure the effects of the betaine beverages on their performance. According to Darin Ezra, maximum peak power was of particular interest in the study.

A relatively simple recipe was used by the team: 2.5 grams of betaine dissolved in a 20-ounce sports drink. Participants drank half of the beverage in the morning, and the other half in the afternoon.

The researchers reported that after just one week of betaine supplementation, mean and peak anaerobic power both increased, compared to baseline measures, by about 5.5%.

Thomas Swensen led the study, which is currently available online in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition.

“Betaine may contribute to creatine synthesis, which improves strength, power and short-term performance,” he said. “Future research should elucidate the mechanism of how betaine supplementation improves performance.”

Previous studies reviewed by Darin Ezra have also shown bananas to be beneficial to a person’s athletic performance in a way similar to beets. Snacking on bananas, according to some researchers, could potentially boost endurance just as effectively as a sports drink. This particular study, from 2012, was published in the journal “PloS ONE.”

Ingredient Spotlight: Curcumin’s Health Benefits

22 Jul

Two new studies, one from the University of Colorado and the other from Selcuk University in Turkey, have found many potential health benefits in curcumin, the natural pigment that makes the spice turmeric yellow. The studies suggest that curcumin in daily supplements could not only support healthy aging, but also be beneficial to cognition and arterial aging.

Many studies reviewed by Power Brands have examined the potential benefits of curcumin in recent years. It has been suggested to help protect against ailments such as arthritis, diabetes, Alzheimer’s and even prostate cancer.

The study conducted by scientists from the University of Colorado, led by Bradley Fleenor, was published in Experimental Gerontology. The researchers used aging lab mice to find a link between curcumin and improved vascular health. The wrote that the chow for the mice, supplemented with 0.2% curcumin, “ameliorates age-associated large elastic artery stiffening, NO-mediated vascular endothelial dysfunction, oxidative stress and increases in collagen […] in mice.” Per day, the mice were given what is equal to 14 grams for an average-sized adult.

“Because of curcumin’s poor absorption and rapid metabolism,” the researchers explained, “clinical trials in humans have also used high doses of curcumin (8 to 12 g) similar to the amount our old mice consumed, while observing only infrequent, minor side effects.”

“Our results provide the first evidence that dietary curcumin supplementation ameliorates two clinically important markers of arterial dysfunction with aging: large elastic artery stiffening and endothelial dysfunction.” The team wrote in conclusion, “Given its accessibility and safety, these pre-clinical findings provide the experimental basis for future translational studies assessing the potential for curcumin to treat arterial dysfunction with aging and reduce CVD risk in humans.”

The second study of curcumin, performed by researchers from Selcuk University, was published in Biogerontology. These researchers focused more on curcumin’s effects on cognitive functions, a potential link which many Power Brands-reviewed studies have explored. Old female rats were used for the study; the rats were given either corn oil or curcumin for seven days, and then for another five days while they were tested with the Morris water maze. According to the results, curcumin supplementation decreased the rats’ total distance traveled, as well as the time required for the rats to reach the platform.

“In addition to the behavioral testing,” the researchers said, “biochemical results showed that MDA levels decreased in brain tissue by curcumin supplementation.” MDA, formerly known as “malondialdehyde,” is a known marker of oxidative stress.

According to Power Brands, the researchers reached a definite conclusion: “It may be concluded that curcumin supplementation improves cognitive functions by decreasing the lipid peroxidation in brain tissue of aged female rats.”

Sugar Substitute’s Link to Parkinson’s

25 Jun

Researchers from the University of Tel Aviv, Israel, have found a connection between the use of mannitol sweetener and a decrease in the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease. Led by Professors Daniel Segal and Ehud Gazit, the research team discovered that the artificial sweetener prevents the forming of masses of alpha-synuclein proteins – associated with Parkinson’s disease and other neurodegenerative brain diseases – in the brain.

For the study published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, the scientists initially analyzed the formation of alpha-synuclein clumps and their structural characteristics and after that, they started searching for compounds that would inhibit this development. They started testing the mannitol on the living brains of fruit flies, genetically engineered to carry human alpha-synuclein genes.

The research team tested the flies’ locomotive capabilities by assessing their ability to climb the walls of a test tube. Initially, only 38% of the flies carrying the human genes were able to climb up the test tube, compared to 72% of the control group of flies. For 27 days, the scientists supplemented with mannitol the food served to the genetically altered flies and at the end of the experiment, 70% of the gene-carrying flies were able to climb up the test tube. Further splitting the mutated flies into two groups – some fed with mannitol and some not – the research team discovered that there was a 70% decrease in the total masses of alpha-synuclein in the flies fed with mannitol.

To confirm the results, the two professors leading the study performed another experiment, on mice genetically engineered to produce alpha-synuclein proteins. Again, the scientist discovered that after four months, the mice fed with mannitol had significantly less alpha-synuclein proteins in their brains. Daniel Segal, one of the leading professors, expressed his enthusiasm concerning the artificial sweetener and its possible future implementations of reducing the risk or even treating Parkinson’s disease and noted that the compound has been approved already for use in clinical interventions and for use in a selection of foods.