When it comes to the heart-health segment, one of the great challenges is how to communicate a product's benefits to the consumer.
"We feel consumers are beginning to look for specific benefits in functional-food health categories they are familiar with, like cardiovascular health," said Jeremy Moore, director of marketing and strategic development at Stratum Nutrition of Missouri.
The company's research indicates that the broad-based claim 'supports heart health' is still powerful, but specific claims such as 'supports healthy cholesterol levels,' 'supports healthy blood pressure,' and 'supports healthy arteries' have "very strong consumer appeal and offer more differentiation in a market saturated with general cardiovascular health claims," Moore said.
"But both the FTC and FDA are making it very difficult to clearly communicate the benefits to consumers," he said, "even when there is good science supporting the market positioning."
Despite the claims issues, the use of the heart-health platform is as strong as ever. Innova Market Insights recently reported that 'heart-health' product launches nearly tripled over the past five years and accounted for nearly 1.5 percent of total food and drinks launches recorded over the 12-month period to the end of April 2010. This is up from less than 0.7 percent in 2005.
The US and Europe account for two-thirds of these launches. In terms of product types, bakery and cereals captured north of 25 percent, dairy products had 12 percent, ready meals and meal components had 10 percent, and soft drinks accounted for nine percent. Other sectors featuring significant numbers of heart-health launches included hot beverages; meat, fish and eggs; fruit and vegetable products; and soups, sauces and seasonings.
Fibers for heart health
On the supply end, Stratum Nutrition unveiled a new cardio-health ingredient in March that combines the benefits of both soluble and insoluble fibers.
Called ARTINIA, the ingredient is a natural vegetarian fiber (Chitin-glucan) extracted from the fungus Aspergillus niger. It is a fine, free-flowing odorless powder composed of two types of polysaccharide chains. The launch came with the support of two published studies.
A 2009 animal study involving nutritionally induced atherosclerosis in hampsters, conducted at the University of Montpellier, found that supplementation with Chitin-glucan water for 12 weeks "significantly" increased antioxidant activity \[superoxide dismutase (SOD) and glutathione peroxidase (GPx)\], and consequently decreased the levels of reactive oxygen species compared to the control group.
Light microscopy image analysis of aortic arch sections taken from the hamsters revealed that the aortic fatty streak area was 96 percent smaller in the group of animals that consumed Chitin-glucan compared to the control. The ingredient was also evaluated in a 28-day pilot study in healthy humans conducted in 2009 at the University of Liège, Belgium. This single-blind, placebo-controlled study enrolled 30 normo-cholesterolemic males. It found Chitin-glucan decreased oxidized LDL cholesterol by approximately 26 percent and increased GSH/GSSG by about 10 percent.
"ARTINIA is unique in its mode of action for improving overall heart health, and we feel that there is a strong need in the marketplace for this type of scientifically validated ingredient," Moore said. "ARTINIA is an excellent option for manufacturers looking to take a new approach to support clean, healthy arteries and overall cardiovascular health."
EPA and DHA
Fish oils have come to be known as the Swiss Army Knife of ingredients for its broad swath of health conditions it can address. But the only health condition that the FDA has so far deemed appropriate of its imprimatur is cardiovascular health. So while marketing — and indeed, also the science — has marched onward, the regulators are content to be conservative.
One of the latest entrants to the category is krill. It's made the news lately because of sustainability concerns voiced by Whole Foods Market, along the lines of "What Would Willie Eat?" Suppliers beg to differ. Regardless, there is much to say about the tiny crustacean's nutrient content consisting of phospholipids, astaxanthin, vitamin E and other proteins.
In March of this year, Valensa International introduced Deep Ocean Krill, a premium krill oil ingredient that boosts natural astaxanthin levels and offers a shelf life of two years.
The new ingredient employs Aker BioMarine's Superba Krill Oil as a base and is fortified with Valensa's ultra-stable Zanthin Natural Astaxanthin to increase astaxanthin levels. Together, the oil features the added anti-inflammatory activity of astaxanthin and the unique phospholipid bound anti-inflammatory EPA found in krill oil.
The ingredient is targeted toward marketers of dietary supplements worldwide who want to offer consumers high-quality omega-3 functionality in a much smaller supplement size.
Deep Ocean Krill is rich in EPA and DHA, which have been shown to support cardio health in a variety of published clinical trials. The EPA and DHA in krill are also bound to phospholipids, rather than the triglycerides found in fish oils — which has important implications for bioavailability, the company says.
"The omega-3 phospholipids found in Deep Ocean Krill have a much simpler digestion process in the small intestine before absorption, indicating that omega-3 phospholipids offer greater bioavailability in the human body than omega-3 triglycerides," said Dr Rudi E. Moerck, president and CEO of Valensa. "Scientific studies have shown elevated concentrations of omega-3s in target organs, such as the brain and heart, when delivered as omega-3 phospholipids. This makes krill oil significantly more bioavailable (than fish oil), offering cardiovascular health benefits at lower dosages."
Omega-3 fatty acids
Omega-3 fatty acids
AstaPure® natural astaxanthin
Congestive heart failure, ischemic heart disease and cardiomyopathy deplete cardiac energy stores by 30% or more, contributing to chronically depressed heart function. Clinically proven, Bioenergy Ribose administration accelerates ATP synthesis, helping supply the crucial energy reserves needed to preserve cardiovascular health and wellness.
Ham Lake, Minnesota, USA
Bio Serae Laboratories SAS
NeOpuntia is a patented lipophilic fiber made from Opuntia ficus-indica cactus. A clinical study showed that NeOpuntia® could help to balance blood lipid levels and reduce cardiovascular risk due to its beneficial effects on HDL cholesterol. It also highlighted that NeOpuntia® could positively influence Syndrome X diagnosis.
+33 468 76 76 20
CoroWise plant sterols
CoroWise Naturally Sourced Cholesterol Reducer brand plant sterols are now an ingredient in a growing number of foods, beverages and supplements. Plant sterols have been clinically shown to lower cholesterol and are backed by an FDA heart health claim.
Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA
Cognis Nutrition & Health
Heart Choice natural plant sterols
Denomega Nutritional Oils
Omega-360, Omega-Classic, Omega-Standard and Omega-360 Powder
DSM Nutritional Products
A nature-identical form of trans-resveratrol, resVida is a powerful antioxidant that is 99% pure and free of impurities such as emodin and pesticides. resVida was shown in a human study to significantly improve blood vessel function. ResVida is the only resveratrol with proven human studies, safety dossier and self-affirmation GRAS.
Krill Oil, CardiaBeat
EPAX 6000 TG
The American Heart Association recommends daily intake of Omega-3 fatty acids for their proven cardioprotective benefits. EPAX 6000 TG is a highly concentrated product in a specific EPA/DHA ratio that is supported by numerous clinical studies to provide a highly effective product.
+47 70 13 59 60
Indena USA Inc.
Mirtoselect Bilberry, Leucoselect® Grape Seed
National Enzyme Co.
Nattozimes a proteolytic system from Aspergillus oryzae that is designed to be a substitute for nattokinase in dietary supplements used for cardiovascular or anti-inflammatory support. Nattokinase is a subtilisin-ike protease produced by Bacillus natto and has properties that closely resemble plasim and readily digest plasmin, fibrin and similar synthetic substrates.
Forsyth, Missouri, USA
MegaNatural BP - helps support blood pressure levels that are already within normal range, helps support normal arterial function, and supports normal endothelium cell function. The product is all-natural, no solvents added and is pesticide free.
973-984-0900 ext 214
Morristown, New Jersey, USA
Salba (Ancient Naturals)
Salba whole seed, Salba milled seed, Salba seed oil
Soft Gel Technologies
EZ Mega 3
Trace Mineral Research
ConcenTrace Ionic Trace Mineral Blend