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Omega-3 and herbals triumph in mood food market

By Alex McNally , 19-Feb-2008

Omega-3 and green tea extracts have come out as excellent choices for companies wishing to cash-in on the emerging mood foods section.

According to Frost & Sullivan, the two components, which have both been making headway in supplements, offer potential for making people feel happy. The mood food sector has risen over the last few years as companies attempt to benefit from food's ability to stimulate neurotransmitters. Fishy Analysts said omega-3 - famed largely for its functional role in heart health - has also earned the title of "excellent mood food". Omega-3 oils block chemicals called cytokines that can cause low mood, they said. Oily fish, such as salmon, sardines, mackerel, tuna, and flaxseed oil, nuts and seeds are all good sources of the fatty acid. Frost & Sullivan said that according to research conducted by the Australasian Research Institute at Sydney Adventist Hospital and the University of NSW, the consumption of omega-3 fatty acids lowers the incidence of depression in adolescents. Europeans consume up to 15 times more omega-6 than omega-3, due to increases in the consumption of processed foods, thereby raising the potential for bouts of depression. Indeed the role of the fatty acid is being looked at on the behaviour of prisoners. The UK is testing the effects of an improved diet with vitamins and fatty acids to see whether it will reduce violent and anti-social behaviour. Green Tea Industry is also waking up to the potential of green tea outside its more well-known role as an antioxidant. According to research from Unilever, green tea contains L-theanine, which is said to relax the brain. Consumption of 50 mg of L-theanine (equivalent to two-three cups of tea) stimulates the alpha-brain waves associated with relaxation. By increasing the frequency of these brain waves, the beta-brain waves associated with tension are decreased, Frost and Sullivan said. New Zealand based HortResearch is also examining the potential fruit may have on mental performance and hopes that a fruit based product will be able to offer consumers a calming effect. They are confident this will be a big sector over the next few years. Analysts said that while there has been growing interest by food companies and consumers alike, the significance of the market is something only time will tell. They added that: "Strategically positioned brands and increased consumer awareness will also help to propel mood food market participants into the right arena, to take these trendy niche foods into a fully-fledged market."

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