Reports

HEALTH DIET: A summary of the main categories of health foods and scientific evidence of their effectiveness

Published:

01/07/2008

Authors:

Sigrún Mjöll Halldórsdóttir, Guðjón Þorkelsson, Þóra Valsdóttir

Contact

Guðjón Þorkelsson

Strategy & Stakeholders

gudjon.thorkelsson@matis.is

HEALTH DIET: A summary of the main categories of health foods and scientific evidence of their effectiveness

Foods that are considered to be able to improve human health can be classified as health foods such as unchanged organically grown foods, dietary supplements and target foods. In the first part of this dissertation, definitions and regulations are reviewed, the material and function of popular health products and permitted health claims are discussed. According to regulations, food supplements are foods that are intended as a supplement to a regular diet, but targeted foods are often defined as foods that have been modified in order to increase their health effects. The second part of the dissertation deals specifically with proteins in health products with an emphasis on the bioactivity of peptides. Bioactive peptides have a beneficial effect on health beyond normal nutritional value. They can have physiological effects on the activity of the gastrointestinal tract, cardiovascular system, immune system and nervous system. The effects of peptides in these systems are reviewed. The potential of fish muscle protein in the healthcare product market is being considered. Nowadays, a very large amount of underutilized by-products from seafood, and research has therefore focused a lot on finding ways to utilize and increase their value. The target food market is booming at the moment and is forecast to expand. Seafood has a positive health image among consumers and therefore health products that contain fish muscle protein could have an impact. However, it requires the right taste, texture and bioactivity to be delivered to the consumer, in addition to which the products need to be introduced to the products in a targeted and powerful way.

Food that has the potential of improving health can be categorized as health food eg organic food, dietary supplements and functional food. Definitions, regulations, composition and functionality of popular health food and permitted health statements, are discussed. According to regulation dietary supplements are foods that are intended as an addition to a normal diet, however functional food is commonly referred to as food that has been fortified to enhance its positive effects on health. The latter part of this paper discusses proteins in health foods with emphasis on bioactive peptides. Bioactive peptides have a positive effect beyond their regular nutritional value. They have been shown to have a biological effect in the alimentary canal, the heart and the vascular system, the immune system and the nervous system. The mechanisms involved are reviewed. The potential of fish protein in the functional food market will also be addressed. Today, great quantity of marine by-products are underutilized. Therefore, emphasis has been within the research community on finding methods to utilize and enhance their value. Currently the functional food market is blooming and is expected to grow in the following years. Marine products have a positive health image among consumers, thus health products containing fish proteins could be a great success. To be realized, this requires that the right taste, texture and bioactivity is delivered to the consumer accompanied by a good advertisement campaign.

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