AI Powered Research Predicts Flavor Trends

olam food ingredients (ofi) is predicting a greater fusion of Eastern and Western flavors in confectionery, bakery, beverages, and snacks. That forecast is based on insights from the company's innovation experts in key regional markets and AI-powered research to identify cocoa flavor trends. The research found Asian flavors like dragon fruit, sesame, yuzu, lychee, and matcha are gaining popularity in the U.S. and Europe. Western flavors like butterscotch, marshmallow, salted caramel, and cookies & cream are becoming more popular in South Asian countries, including Indonesia and India.  “Increasing globalization means flavor trends are crossing borders faster than ever," said Edward Norder, Head of EMENA Innovation, ofi. "And thanks to social media, a local craze can turn into a worldwide phenomenon overnight. This is a big opportunity for food and beverage companies to get ahead, but first they need to be able to pair the right flavors and translate emerging trends into great-tasting products in the development kitchen. That’s why we have created new cocoa pairings and innovative concepts inspired by this ‘East meets West’ trend. From chocolate-coated dragon fruit ice cream and a yuzu-infused chocolate panna cotta for the US, to a chipotle chili, lime and passionfruit dessert for Germany, and a black forest and cocoa flavored frappe-style drink for Indonesia."

Mental Wellness Insights Report Delivers Category Updates

A new report from Novozymes OneHealth is designed to help brands develop new products for the fast-growing Mental Wellness segment of the dietary supplements market. “For companies seeking to innovate in this product category, understanding the nuances of how consumers perceive this category is essential as this market matures,” said Allie Chandler, Head of Brand and B2B marketing, North America, Novozymes OneHealth. “The Mental Wellness Insights Report outlines marketing opportunities, consumer perspectives on mental wellness, and delves into the Gut-Brain interaction.” 

Consumer insights were obtained through in-depth one-on-one interviews with people in the U.S., China, and Germany. Participants were divided into Gen Z (ages 18-24), Millennials (25-40), Gen X (41-55), and Baby Boomers (56-75). A key finding: Stress and sleep issues are among the most challenging aspects of mental wellness. Boomers report more trouble with sleep, while younger generations more likely to report that work-related stress is undermining their quality of life. All age groups report using multiple tactics to cope, including a high acceptance of dietary supplement use to support mental wellness. Consumers also understand that there is a relationship between gut health and mental wellness, and that probiotics play a role.

Vitamin K2 Supports Normal Blood Pressure

Gnosis by Lesaffre shared the news of further substantiation that vitamin K2 protects cardiovascular function for post-menopausal women. As shown in a soon-to-be-published post-hoc analysis, daily supplementation of vitamin K2, menaquinone-7 (MK-7; as MenaQ7) can improve elastic properties of vessels and promote healthy blood pressure in women with increased arterial stiffness. An abstract discussing the results was presented in August at the European Society of Cardiology (ESC) Congress by lead author and Ph.D. student Femke de Vries. The authors of the post-hoc analysis of the double-blind, placebo-controlled, clinical intervention trial sought to discern the effects of MK-7 supplementation on vascular stiffness in women who were pre-, peri-, and post-menopausal. The trial included 166 women between the ages of 40 and 70 with low K2 status. Subjects consumed 180 mcg MK-7 daily or placebo for one year. Pre-, peri-, and post-menopausal women were subdivided according to arterial stiffness.

The finding: MK-7 supplementation significantly attenuated vascular stiffness in post-menopausal women; those post-menopausal women with a high stiffness index showed significantly improved vascular markers (decreased blood pressure at brachialis, decreased blood pressure at carotid artery, increased distensibility coefficient, and increased compliance coefficient) after MK-7 supplementation. 

“Our results confirm that hormonal changes affect the vasculature and that post-menopausal women [exhibit] increased vascular stiffness reflected by functional vascular damage," the authors wrote. "Further, MK-7 supplementation significantly attenuates arterial stiffness in post-menopausal women, in which women with increased stiffness benefit most on blood pressure."

“This abstract strengthens the proof that K2 as MenaQ7 supports healthy cardiovascular function in aging women and can serve as an inexpensive tool for protecting heart health,” says Prof. Leon Schurgers, lead researcher on the post-hoc analysis and chair of the Gnosis Vitamin K2 Scientific Advisory Committee.

Report Highlights Omega-3s for Skin Health 

To better illuminate the correlation between EPA and DHA omega-3s and skin health, the Global Organization for EPA and DHA Omega-3s (GOED) has compiled two comprehensive scientific highlighting the body of evidence these omegas and specific skin health outcomes. One report focuses on dermatitis, and the other looks at psoriasis. The reports were created with the help of GOED’s Clinical Study Database (CSD), which organizes all human clinical studies related to EPA and DHA omega-3s. Both reports include information on the background of the conditions, the number and type of articles published, commonly found biomarkers, key influencers in the field, and suggested next research steps. The reports are available for purchases on the GOED website for $99. GOED members have free access to the report.

Joint Support Ingredient Demonstrates Longer-Term Mobility Support 

PLT Health Solutions announced the completion of a six-month clinical study on its AprèsFlex 5-Day Joint Support ingredient, which is a patented, synergistic Boswellia serrata gum resin extract. PLT said the study validates and extends the findings of three previous double-blind studies showing that AprèsFlex provides significant improvements in joint comfort at a low 100-mg dose. The latest study validates the improvements in joint comfort, stiffness, and physical function at the one- and three-month marks. The benefits continue to increase, with no plateau effect, through the end of the six-month study, the company shared. In addition, the study  shows long-term improvements in functional capacity for walking and stair climbing, activities of daily living most affected by those with joint comfort and mobility issues. The results also demonstrate preservation of joint space and cartilage thickness compared with placebo, and significant reduction of biomarkers of inflammation and cartilage degradation.

“AprèsFlex is one of the world’s most widely used joint comfort ingredients, powering major consumer brands – because it works – and now we know that it keeps working for the long-term," said Seth Flowerman, President & CEO of PLT Health Solutions. "Working with our innovation partner Laila Nutraceuticals, PLT designed a study that could evaluate both the long-term potential for this ingredient and its ability to address the unmet needs of joint space preservation and cartilage protection. When you see results like a 70% improvement in comfort, stiffness, and function, and 30% improvement in functional capacity in a longer-term setting, these are not just statistics, but tangible results that can meaningfully improve people’s lives. The joint space and cartilage preservation data from this study is a game-changer for our industry.”

Mood and Anxiety Benefits of a Unique Probiotic Blend

Probiotical SpA shared the news that a U.S. university-based follow-up clinical trial using the company's multi-strain probiotic, Bifizen, has been published in the journal Frontiers in Nutrition. The placebo-controlled  revealed a significant effect of the four-strain probiotic on measures of minor depression, anxiety, and mood. 

This study (which is an expansion of earlier research with Bifizen), was initiated just before the COVID-19 pandemic was declared, and then restarted in September, 2020. It was led by Chad Kerksick, Ph.D., of Lindenwood University, who shared, “We encountered significant challenges in the performance of this trial and appreciate the commitment of the subjects who completed the study. What remains intriguing is the influence of a global pandemic on the psychosocial and mental health of our otherwise healthy subjects. Our findings offer an enticing suggestion that Bifizen could have effects in persons living with sub-clinical depression and anxiety, but this would need to be borne out in systematic clinical trials in appropriate populations.”

For the study, 70 women and men complete the nine-week protocol: six weeks of supplementation with Bifizen or a matched placebo, followed by a three-week “washout” period. Research validated questionnaires were used to assess the efficacy of drugs, counseling, and dietary supplements. The finding: Among the 35 subjects in the Bifizen group, significant improvements in scores were noted for measures of depression, anxiety, and cognitive reactivity to a sad mood (depression response). Improvements were noted at four and six weeks of supplementation and endured for three weeks after cessation of supplementation. No changes were noted in the placebo group. When compared directly with placebo, the anxiety and mood response scores were significantly superior in the Bifizen group, the company shared.

Four Studies Show ‘Next Gen’ Brain Health & Mood Benefits

Specnova shared the news of four new studies conducted at Texas A&M University that reveal the unique benefits and safety profile of the company's proprietary, concentrated ashwagandha extract, NooGandha, which addresses cognitive issues. A randomized double-blind study found that  225 mg daily of NooGandha improved perceptions of fatigue, anxiety, and sadness, reducing tension, confusion, anger, and fatigue. Two randomized double-blind studies found that 225 mg daily of NooGandha can improve cognitive performance over time with enhancements in word recall and recognition, picture recall, reaction time, focus, and digit vigilance (rapid visual tracking and accurate selection of stimuli). In addition, a double-blind, placebo-controlled study found 225 mg daily of NooGandha was well tolerated by healthy individuals. No significant changes were observed in blood counts, clinical markers, or side effect frequency.

“NooGandha is a clinically studied, next generation ashwagandha with a unique compound composition that is proven to have novel cognitive benefits compared to any other ashwagandha extracts in the marketplace,” said Sebastian Balcombe, Specnova Founder and CEO. "The research shows that NooGandha is a specialized cognitive-enhancing, nootropic-focused ashwagandha that retains powerful anti-stress/cortisol benefits but with greater cognitive performance benefits than other traditional ashwagandha products—and without drowsiness.

“What makes NooGandha revolutionary is not just the level of total ashwagandha withanolides—which is validated through the USP-HPLC method to be higher than competing ashwagandhas. NooGandha stands apart in overall unique compound composition including other classes of natural plant bioactive compounds outside the withanolide class, such as key alkaloids. NooGandha uniquely leverages ashwagandha’s natural plant matrix components for optimal stability and absorption.” 

Tart Cherry Capsules Support Healthy Uric Acid Levels

A double blind, placebo-controlled study from Ohio University, published in Plant Foods for Human Nutrition, compared the impact of tart cherry, in either juice or powder form, on two inflammatory markers (uric acid and high-sensitivity C-Reactive Protein) and oxidative capacity (ORAC). “Although the use of tart cherry concentrate dominates the literature, the use of powdered cherry supplements has increased recently,” noted researcher Angela Hillman, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Exercise Physiology, Division of Exercise Physiology, Ohio University.  “One might consider the use of a powdered tart cherry capsule because it is lower in sugar than the juice or concentrate versions, contains the skins of the cherry where many of the anthocyanins are found, and each capsule contains more cherry product.”  
The study involved 48 healthy college students. Participants ingested tart cherries or a placebo as either juice (240 ml per bottle) or Anderson Advanced’s CherryPURE capsules (480mg per capsule) once or twice daily for 48 hours. “We chose these dosages because the protocol closely mimicked what people would do in real life,” Hillman said.
Key findings: One capsule a day lowered uric acid for 24 hours, while two capsules lowered it for 8 hours. By comparison, tart cherry juice increased uric acid for a little while, then levels started going down a bit. There was no difference with one bottle or two bottles of juice per day. Researchers saw few differences in the C-Reactive Protein and ORAC markers.
CherryPURE is produced from the phytonutrient-rich skins of Montmorency tart cherries. It is 100% tart cherry, GMO-free, gluten-free, vegan and excipient-free. 

Nicotinamide Riboside (NR) as a NAD+ Precursor

ChromaDex Corp. shared findings from a preclinical study, published n the peer-reviewed journal International Journal of Molecular Sciences. A team of scientists led by Dr. Yue Yang, Assistant Professor of Research in Pharmacology at Weill Cornell Medicine in New York, utilized stable isotopes to assess the metabolic fate of nicotinamide mononucleotide (NMN). ChromaDex says the results indicate that NMN is primarily converted to nicotinamide and nicotinamide riboside (NR) before being utilized for Nicotinamide Adenine Dinucleotide (NAD+synthesis, with only a small portion of NMN being directly incorporated into NAD+. According to the company, these results build on a growing body of research demonstrating that NMN cannot cross the cell membrane directly. It must first be converted to NR, which can cross the cell membrane directly. This data, the company says, along with other science, indicates that NR is a more efficient NAD+ precursor than NMN.“The research overwhelmingly demonstrates that NMN obtained from the diet or supplementation is a precursor to NR as NMN cannot efficiently cross the cell membrane and suggests NR is more efficient at increasing NAD+ levels,” said Dr. Anthony Covarrubias, Principal Investigator at UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine, Department of Microbiology, Immunology, and Molecular Genetics, UCLA Metabolism and Immunology Theme Space, who was not involved in the study.
     Chromadex also noted that, in November 2022, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) determined that NMN could no longer be sold as a dietary supplement. This decision has no impact on NR, which is a chemically and biologically distinct precursor to NAD+. (Background: β-NMN Is Not a Dietary Supplement? CRN Responds and the latest: FDA Rejects Congressional Request for Public Hearing on NMN)

There's more to know!

Subscribe to In The Know newsletters to stay informed. Don't miss the latest:

Main News 

Grocery News 

Research News 

Supplier News 

Green News …and more!