Getting little extra from food

Getting a little extra from food

7:42 AM, 13th March 2017
Getting a little extra from food
Phytonutrients is the next level of nutritional supplements which is set to complete the dietary charts

Having a healthy diet of fruits and vegetables does not ensure optimum health as the food we consume is laced with harmful chemicals. Phytonutrients are the next level of nutritional supplements which is set to complete the dietary charts.

By Debarati Das

This generation, by large, is growing more health conscious as the awareness of healthy eating and healthy living is picking up pace. Vegan diet, superfoods etc. top the food chart nowadays. But have you wondered if we are really getting the maximum amount of plant nutrients from the fruits and vegetables that we consume or are the nutrients getting washed off due to the toxicity of soil, pesticides and the constant attack of various chemicals on plants?

To address this, phytonutrients have begun gaining impetus in the foods and dietary supplements industries. Phytonutrients, or ‘plant- nutrients’ are certain specific, organic components found in plants that boast of immense health benefits. Vegetables, legumes, nuts, grains and fruits are some of the rich sources of phytonutrients. These nutrients found in plants are produced by the plant to protect it from damaging environmental conditions like ultraviolet rays, predator pests, toxins, and pollutants while providing colour, flavour, and smell.

Different plants and vegetables contain different phytonutrients and regular consumption of a varied mix of vegetables and fruits can boost the effectiveness of phytonutrients and considerably prevent or delay various diseases like reduction in blood pressure, increase in vessel dilation, improved vision, decreased inflammation, decreased LDL (low density lipids) cholesterol, and prevention of cellular damage.

Market Expansion

Although phytochemicals are best taken in by eating the foods that contain them, there has been a huge rise in the phytonutrients in the form of dietary supplements in the market which can be consumed in the form of tablets or health drinks as per requirement. The global market for phytonutrients was valued at $3.05 billion in 2014 and is projected to reach $4.63 billion by 2020, at a CAGR of 7.2 percent from 2015 to 2020, according to MarketsandMarkets report. 

Phytonutrients in plants can be found in the form of carotenoids, flavonoids, lycopene, resveratrol, and phytosterols - each of them serves a different purpose. For instance, carotenoids protect the body against the risk of heart disease, stroke, blindness, and certain types of cancer. They may also help slow the ageing process, reduce difficulties associated with diabetes, and improve lung utility. Currently, carotenoids, phytosterols, and phenolic compounds are the most widely found and used phytonutrients in various sectors such as food & beverages, feed, pharmaceuticals, and cosmetics. Global carotenoids application may alone generate revenue over $2 billion by 2024, according to Global Market Insights while global phytosterols market size may surpass $730 million by 2024. Flavonoids are the second most widely used phytonutrients.

These supplements are readily available and contain multiple phytonutrients. The demand has found further impetus due to growing health awareness among consumers coupled with rising health concerns, changing food habits and hectic lifestyle. Consumers also realise that phytonutrients are superior-quality foodstuffs with balanced nutrients. Their supplements can plug the missing holes in nutrition intake in a normal diet plan.

Cashing on nutrients

These disease-preventing properties have led to the transformation of phytonutrients to numerous commercial products containing phytonutrients in different proportions.

Natural solutions that advance human health are in high demand and with this, microbial solutions are expected to witness a huge growth. Chr. Hansen, a global supplier of probiotics to dietary supplements, infant formula and dairy, is further strengthening its microbial platform with Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG (protected under the trademark LGG®), which is used in food and dietary supplements.

The markets for well documented probiotic strains are experiencing very strong growth in dietary supplements and drive an entire category in fermented milk products, such as yoghurt, kefir, etc. We believe that there are vast opportunities for the LGG® brand considering Chr. Hansen’s wide geographic reach and deep technical knowledge,” said Lasse Nagell, senior vice president, human health, Chr. Hansen.

Additionally, the food & beverages, pharmaceutical and nutraceutical industries are constantly trying to come up with new methods to incorporate these phytonutrients in new avatars to entice customer’s choice. They are also being used as additives in food products such as bakery products, milk, sausages, spicy sauces, yoghurts, spreads and margarine.

Chr. Hansen came up with lactose-free milk with reduced sugar for consumers who perceive it as a healthier alternative. Most lactose-free milk products experience flavour issues while manufacturers struggle with high cost of fermented dairy free of lactose. Chr. Hansen’s NOLA® Fit retained the premium taste of dairy products produced at affordable cost by working on the high specific activity of the enzyme over a wide pH and temperature.  

Apart from this, the Global Market Insights report that the pharmaceutical application would surpass $1 trillion by 2024. APAC, led by India’s pharmaceutical growth, may witness over $60 billion by 2024. The increase in health diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, cancer and diabetes are key trending drivers which may fuel industry growth.

Phytonutrients in the form of beverage consumption, such as energy drinks and sports drinks, would drive nutraceutical supplements to demand among the health-conscious population. Vitamin E market may surpass 165-kilo tonnes by 2024. The shift towards natural and organic beauty products has fuelled the phytonutrients market in cosmetics industry where products including skin care, sunscreen lotions, hair care and perfumes are increasingly using natural ingredients.

The immense health benefits of phytonutrients are being vigorously marketed to further drive its market globally. Also, increasing availability and cheaper cost of raw materials, improved extraction techniques, and diversified application demands are driving the demand for phytonutrients across the world. This has led to significant strengthening efforts in R&D to identify efficient sources to extract phytonutrients and meet the rapidly growing demand for phytonutrients.

However, what good is a good diet if there isn’t any room for cheat foods. And to match up with “health conscious food loving” consumers who love to binge on a slice of pizza or a scoop of cake, Pharmachem Laboratories came up with a carb controller ingredient called DietSpice, which is a line of functional seasonings that can be sprinkled on food to help weight watchers absorb fewer calories from the starches in their meals. This ingredient is a proprietary extract of Phaseolus vulgaris or white kidney bean.

“No one would argue that a high-protein, low-carb diet is the way to go if you want to lose weight. But it is hard to stick to because we all love our starchy foods,” said Mitch Skop, managing director, Pharmachem. “The ingredient started at the very end of ephedra and the very beginning of the low carb craze.”  

The demand for phytonutrients majorly comes from Europe and will continue to dominate the global market in the near future owing to the rising health concerns in the region. The US, Germany, France, Italy, and China are the top five markets for phytonutrients and account for nearly 50 percent of the global total phytonutrients consumption, according to Markets and Markets report.

However, since stressed lifestyle, unhealthy eating, ageing population and rising health concerns are becoming a universal phenomenon, phytonutrient market has great growth opportunities in emerging markets and untapped regions.

The phytonutrients industry is here to stay and explore new avenues of adding value to food.

© Chemical Today Magazine

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