American Ingredients will now supply the concentrated oat fiber ingredient on behalf of the Pennsylvanian company, positioning the product in a rapidly swelling market for cholesterol-lowering functional foods.
Clinical studies have shown that oat beta-glucan significantly reduces bad (LDL) and total cholesterol, and oatmeal has carried a health claim, approved by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA), since 1997.
OatVantage - which provides 18 times the amount of fiber than oatmeal - can be used in encapsulation and tableting, semi-solid and solid foods and beverages, functional foods, nutraceuticals and dietary supplements.
Nurture says the product is an easy way for consumers to meet the FDA's recommendation of eating three grams of oat soluble fiber per day to reduce the risk of heart disease - equating to about three bowls of instant oatmeal.
At the moment insoluble fiber, from wholegrains, is enjoying more attention from consumers and the food industry than soluble fiber, but interest in the soluble variety is rising fast, according to Frost and Sullivan.
It claims the entire fiber market in the US was worth $192.8m in 2004, $176.2m of which is insoluble fiber and $16.6 million soluble.
But while Frost and Sullivan predicts overall growth to $470m by 2011, the soluble fiber sector is expected to increase by almost twice the growth rate of insoluble fiber - 26.3 percent compared to 13.1 percent.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated 106.9m American adults have total blood cholesterol levels of 200 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) and higher, which is above desirable levels. Of these, 37.7 million have levels of 240 mg/dL or higher, which is considered high risk.
For those with 'borderline high' cholesterol of between 200 - 240 mg/dL health care professionals encourage patents to lower their cholesterol through diet and exercise rather than prescribing drugs. And it is these consumers Nurture wants to target with its high-fiber offering.
Beyond lowering cholesterol, oat fiber is also said to help manage blood sugar levels and decrease appetite (thereby helping to manage weight), both of which have a beneficial knock-on effect for the whole cardiovascular system.