Algae omega-3 oil among foods produced in industry-academia metabolic syndrome pact

By Will Chu

- Last updated on GMT

Biotech firms are reaping the rewards of a project looking into foods tackling metabolic syndrome resulting in products like microalgae, omega-3 and antioxidant-infused juices and algae-derived omega 3 oil.

The Metasin project, which includes agri-food firms, looks to address nutritional issues by developing food solutions to help reduce risk and improve pathologies related to metabolic syndrome.

“The balance of the project has been very positive,”​ the consortium of firms comment in a statement.

“New products have already been launched with beneficial effects such as a light sauce with fibre and quinoa, oat, rice and microalgae pancakes and juices with healthy ingredients such as microalgae, omega-3 and antioxidants.”

“Also, butter with a healthier fat profile, thanks to special feeding of cows, omega 3 oil from algae, extract rich in D-chiroinositol that improves the pregnancy rate in women with polycystic ovary syndrome, related to insulin resistance." 

Spanish contingent

Along with biotech firm Biosearch Life, the group includes olive oil specialists Acesur, microalgae producers AlgaEnergy, fragrances and flavours firm Carinsa Group and dairy cooperative Feiraco.

These Spanish companies are also joined by purees and smoothie firm Fruselva, brewing company Mahou, and confectionary and cereal firm Vida, all based in the Spanish region.

“The Metasin project offers us the possibility to develop in a public-private collaboration framework, new innovative products that present a natural alternative for the prevention and/or treatment of various diseases related to the metabolic syndrome from a multifunctional approach,” ​said Cristina Diaz, R&D project manager for Biosearch Life.

“The project will allow AlgaEnergy to develop various technologies for the procurement and incorporation of biomass and/or extracts coming from microalgae in an extensive number of food matrices,”​ added Maria Segura Fornieles, AlgaEnergy’s technical director.

Food for Life Spain Platform

Together, the firms took part in the project entitled, “Research, development and innovation in new multifunctional foods for metabolic syndrome,” - ​part of the Food for Life Spain Platform (PTF4LS).

Its main objective is to research and develop active ingredients, foods and multifunctional food supplements to influence pathologies and risk factors associated with metabolic syndrome.

The high and growing prevalence of this syndrome in recent years raises the alarm in what the World Health Organization (WHO) calls the epidemic of the twenty first century.

Lifestyle changes, which include unsatisfactory diets and low physical activity, are the main external triggers.

Numerous health campaigns are trying to curb this problem by recommending diets that are more suitable and encouraging physical exercise.

Along with the new products produced, prototypes developed include bread, muffins, juices and fruit drinks enriched with active compounds and food supplements with different functional ingredients.

Probiotic strain discovery

Furthermore new probiotic strains in animal models became a research focus, which demonstrate a number of positive effects on obesity and glucose metabolism.

“Carinsa will identify and obtain different active compounds that will be incorporated in food, meat and confectionary matrices with the objective to improve and/or prevent certain diseases associated with metabolic syndrome,”​ said Mercedes Villalobos, R&D project technician for the Carinsa Group.

“In addition, it will allow continuing research on the Lactobacillus planetarium probiotic (LP3547) and determine if it can be considered as an active ingredient able to be incorporated in various matrices with effect on the metabolic syndrome.”

Academic know how also compliments industry efforts, as Leitat Technological Centre became the scientific project coordinators.

Other team members include the University of Granada, Jaén, Santiago de Compostela, Pablo de Olavide Seville, Valencia Polytechnic, the Institute of Dairy Products (IPLA-CSIC), the Institute of Research in Food Sciences (CIAL-CSIC) and AINIA Technological centre.

The project, which ended in June, also gained approval in the 2015 call of the CIEN strategic programme managed by the Centre for the Development of Industrial Technology (CDTI).

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