Dutch company Acatris, formed recently following a merger between four Royal Schouten businesses, established its new name with the launch of a lignan product at last week's VitaFoods trade fair in Geneva, Switzerland.
The lignan extract is derived from flaxseed, an increasingly popular health ingredient, particularly for heart and prostate health. Called LinumLife, the ingredient will be aimed at the men's health market.
Flaxseed lignans are currently being researched for their role in men's health issues, such as Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH) or enlargement of the prostate gland, and prostate cancer. Although the exact cause of BPH is unknown, it is generally accepted that the hormone testosterone is involved.
LinumLife provides a concentrated source of phytoestrogens, capable of balancing natural hormone levels in the body, and therefore is claimed to have a positve role in testosterone production.
Acatris claims that this is the first highly concentrated source of flax lignans. "Flax oil and milled flaxseed are readily available, but industrial processing destroys the lignans in the oil, and milled flaxseed tends to go rancid quickly. Our manufacturing process means LinumLife contains standardised lignans, and from ten to30 times the levels found in other flax ingredients", said Nele Bracke, technical service manager.
While lignans occur in other plants, flax provides up to 800 times more than other plants. Whole flaxseeds are found in many foods such as bakery products, but the lignans are not completely released during digestion.
The new ingredient can be used in soft gels, tablets and also cereal bars.
LinumLife fits with the Acatris portfolio. Soylife, one of the companies involved in the recent merger, has been producing a range of soy ingredients under the same name for six years.
"We have experience working with phytoestrogens. Where the phytoestrogens in soy are isoflavones, which work on breast tissue, in the case of flax they target the prostate," said Liesbeth Neven, Acatris product manager.
She added: " A recent study in the US showed that men are buying as many supplements as women. The popularity of saw palmetto proves the demand for an ingredient that has scientific research behind it."
Acatris' key markets are the US and Europe. One of its customers will use the new ingredient in cereal bars, available in September.