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Articles from 2008 In May

Delicious Living

Current Issue: June 2008

Heparin scandal to hurt chondroitin?

Opinions vary, but many think it further taints China as supplier

United States The market for dietary products containing chondroitin could suffer as a result of the contaminated heparin scandal — but sales of products from China in general face being hardest hit, according to a leading ingredients supplier.

Officials have linked the deaths of as many as 81 Americans to a batch of heparin, a blood-thinning drug, after investigations established it had been tainted with over-sulphated (or hyper-sulphated) chondroitin sulphate, also known as dermatan sulphate. This is a chemically altered form of the chondroitin used in supplements as an anti-inflammatory.

Exactly how the heparin, manufactured by pharmaceutical supplier Baxter International from ingredients sourced in China, came to be contaminated is not yet known, although the Food & Drug Administration said it believed the contamination may have been deliberate. The issue has caused a row between the US and China, which has acknowledged the contamination but questioned whether the deaths were actually caused by the chondroitin. It says heparin containing chondroitin had been used in several other countries without reports of ill effects.

Notwithstanding when, where, how and why the contamination took place, is this episode a matter of concern for suppliers of chondroitin and the products containing it? Will the US public, bombarded with negative headlines linking chondroitin with the tragedy, come to see it as a danger to avoid?

Larry Kolb, president, US operations, for Montana-based chondroitin supplier TSI Health Sciences, said he believed there would be fallout for the chondroitin market, which is worth an estimated $200 million a year globally, but just how much remained unclear. "It will have some negative effects on the market," he said. "I'm sure there has been some negative impact with consumers reading about this ingredient by name as the adulterant in heparin. I've seen a growing concern about chondroitin — and other ingredients from China in general, not just chondroitin. It's more of a growing concern as the media piles on pet foods, toothpaste, and now pharmaceuticals that are dangerous, all resulting from adulteration in China."

The Washington DC-based Council for Responsible Nutrition was not convinced there had been any backlash against chondroitin itself, but concurred that following this incident, consumers are now more conscious of where products were imported from.

"To our knowledge, there has been no negative impact from this of a specific nature," said Andrew Shao, vice president, scientific and regulatory affairs. "However, overall awareness about the importance of supply-chain integrity and traceability has been elevated. This reinforces the importance of manufacturers managing their supply chain every step of the way and qualifying their suppliers — both being critical for compliance with good manufacturing practices for dietary supplements."

Both Kolb and Shao were at pains to point out that the chondroitin found in the heparin differed from that found in supplements. "This was not a dietary-supplement issue," said Shao. "This was a case of an over-sulphated version of chondroitin sulphate, which means extra sulphur molecules were added to chondroitin sulphate, making it appear like heparin."

The United States Pharmacopeial (USP) Convention is working with the FDA to develop more sensitive methods for detecting contaminants in heparin. According to Roger L Williams, MD, USP's chief executive officer, "It is difficult for analytical procedures to detect and identify all adulterants. USP monographs are designed to test for known impurities that result from manufacture or degradation, not for unknown contaminants that may be added either accidentally or deliberately."

The gender divide on food

Men and Women Really are from Different Planets — at least when it comes to their eating habits. Between May 2006 and April 2007, more than 14,000 adults across ten states detailed which foods they were more likely to eat for a survey performed by the Center for Disease Control's Foodborne Disease Active Surveillance Network. The results showed a chasm between the two sexes' food preferences. Of the people surveyed, men were more likely to report eating meat and poultry, while women seemed to prefer fruits and vegetables. Women also said they ate more carrots, tomatoes, berries, and apples, though men ate more brussels sprouts and asparagus. Yogurt and almond consumption was higher among women. In the meantime, men noshed on more foods, such as oysters, runny eggs, and undercooked hamburgers, considered high risk for foodborne illnesses. Women's favorite risky food? Alfalfa sprouts.

Reduce, reuse, and let's party!

Cleaning up after a kids' party can feel like standing in the aftermath of a natural disaster. The disposable plastic cups, plates, cutlery, tablecloths, balloons, and streamers might have seemed great an hour into the bash, but they don't look so hot when they're smashed into trash bags headed for the dump. While this may seem like the price we pay when we host parties, it doesn't have to be, says Jenn Savedge, author of The Green Parent (Kedzie, 2008). Embracing a zero-waste or even a less-waste party philosophy is easier than you think.

Use email invites

To cut down on paper waste (and save dollars on postage too), send announcements via email. Sites such as make this choice attractive and simple. Be sure to relay information about bus or bike routes to partygoers, and help organize carpools for kids. If you're inviting friends and family from afar, build a webpage with information on where to stay and what to bring.

Reuse or buy compostable tableware

Do you have reusable plates, cups, silverware, tablecloths, and napkins at home? If not, the first option may be to rent these items. The next best option is “ordering compostable products made from cellulose plant material like potato starch, corn-starch, or bagasse [a byproduct of sugarcane production],” says Marti Matsch, communications director for Eco-Cycle, a recycling center in Boulder, Colorado, that offers a compostable zero-waste party kit. Look for recycled, compostable items from brands like Seventh Generation or order items online (see “Compostable Tableware Resources,” right). As far as decorations are concerned, use food, paper streamers, and flowers — all of which are fully compostable. As prevalent as they are, avoid balloons, which aren't biodegradable and can harm wildlife.

Know the compost and recycling rules

Hosting a party is a great opportunity to get familiar with your local recycling options — or to refresh your recycling and compost know-how. If your town doesn't offer curbside recycling, visit to find the closest recycling center. On party day, set up compost and recycling stations in lieu of trash bins (for general compost guidelines, see “Is It Compostable?” at left). Clearly mark your compost and recycling, and create signs that explain why there are no trash bins.

Green up your gifts

Encourage eco-friendly presents like clothes or playthings made from organic materials, gift certificates, and tickets to local events. “One way to steer guests in the right direction without coming across as tacky or preachy is to specify one or two stores where the guest of honor has a wish list,” says Savedge. Hosts can specify on their invitations green online stores like Eco-Wise ( or Green Feet ( that have gift registries.


Harness kids' creative energy — and make party favors at the same time — by setting up a craft for kids to complete at the party. Plant flowers in pots hand-painted by guests, or use old fabric, ribbon, buttons, and beads to make art, reusable lunch napkins, puppets, or toys. Or, if a craft seems like too much, set up a puzzle, toy, or book exchange at your party and let kids swap old for new.

Is it compostable?

PLATES, CUPS, AND UTENSILS made from biodegradable materials such as corn or potato starch.

PLASTIC-COATED paper and cardboard are not compostable or recyclable.


MOST FOOD. However, animal products, including cheese, bones, oils, and meats, should be handled by composting companies. Commercial composting systems work at a higher temperature and process these items better than backyard piles. Plus, these items can attract unwanted wildlife.

Compostable tableware resources

Have an eco party tip? Share it online at

Using inulin and oligofructose with high-intensity sweeteners

Teaming fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS) with high-intensity sweeteners yields a sweetness profile closer to sugar, and with the added benefit of housing half the calories of sugar. And that doesn't even begin to address the FOS prebiotic properties. Joseph O'Neill explores this new option for reduced-sugar formulations

Sugar consumption continues to rise in the US despite medical and governmental warnings to reduce and/or minimise sugar intake. Excessive sugar consumption is a major factor in the development of adult-onset diabetes. These diseases, along with the many other health problems associated with the rising incidence of obesity in the US and in Europe, are major concerns from a public-health perspective.

Chicory root is one of hte main natural sources of inulinIt's a set of problems to which the processed food and beverages industries have been linked to. With the rise of healthier and formulations-friendly next-generation ingredients, and with consumer awareness helping to lead the way, solutions are readily at hand. The food industry has long recog-nised the opportunity for formulating low-calorie, low-carbohydrate, sugar-free and fat-free foods to address the consumer demand for products to help fight the battle against obesity and numerous diet-related diseases. Today, virtually every consumer recognises the need for balanced nutrition. Almost everyone is interested, to one degree or another, in reduced-calorie, fibre-enriched, sugar-free and reduced-sugar foods and beverages — especially when those products can taste good and still offer ready-to-eat convenience, as they support a healthy lifestyle.

When it comes to reducing or eliminating the sugar content in foods, formulators today have a variety of high-intensity sweetener (HIS) options available. The main HISs, used singly or in combination, include aspartame, acesulfame-K and sucralose. In spite of their clear self-interest, consumers are still relatively unwilling to sacrifice taste or texture, so the main challenge from a formulating perspective is to mask off flavours, or off notes, associated with HISs.

A new HIS option
A growing number of product developers have found a good solution by using a fructo-oligosaccharide (FOS), namely inulin or oligofructose, in combination with one or more HISs. Not only do inulin and oligofructose contribute partial sweetness, they offer a 50 per cent reduction in calories compared to sugar, as well as prebiotic benefits, and they have the ability to mask off flavours/off notes associated with the HISs. Sucralose, for example, is known to have a slight licorice off note, which can be masked by the addition of oligofructose.

Inulin is a polydisperse molecule found in many common fruits and vegetables, and can be readily extracted from chicory roots. The extract offers bulking properties similar to sugar, and can be differentiated based on chain-length distribution. Short-chain oligofructose has a degree of polymerisation of less than 10 and is available in both a powder and liquid form. Oligofructose syrups have a sweetness level 30-50 per cent of sugar. Native standard inulin has a degree of sweetness of 10 per cent of sugar.

Obviously, the sweetness level of sugar cannot be achieved by using inulin or oligofructose alone. Oligofructose and inulin need HISs to achieve the sweetness of sugar, while HISs need FOS to achieve an overall flavour profile closer to that of sugar. The flavour-masking benefits of chicory inulin and oligofructose can also be used to remove the off flavour or aftertaste associated with vitamin-enriched formulations and soy-based recipes.

An added benefit of using chicory oligofructose or chicory inulin is its capacity as a flavour potentiator. Both increase the perceived intensity of berry or fruit flavours in a formulation, for instance. The technical properties of a product like Orafti-brand oligofructose, as an example, make it an excellent substitute for sugar. In addition to helping to mask the off notes and aftertastes of HISs for a more sugarlike sweetness profile, Orafti oligofructose has similar sensorial and physical properties to sugar. It improves body and mouthfeel compared to traditional low-calorie fruit preparations based on HISs only, imparting a well-balanced and rounded fruit taste. In fact, it offers a better flavour release compared even to traditional sucrose-based formulations. Meanwhile, a specialised product like Orafti HSI (inulin) combines the technical and sensorial properties of both oligofructose and inulin, resulting in an optimized sweetness profile in combination with HISs.

A blend of acesulfame-K and aspartame with inulin or oligofructose results in a quantitative synergistic sweetening effect corresponding to 15-35 per cent more sweetness, depending on application and formulation. Synergies are also obtainable in yoghurts, for example, using a combination of oligofructose with sucralose or with sucralose/acesulfame K.

When selecting a specific inulin or oligofructose ingredient, practical considerations include:

  • Form — There is a choice of powder or liquid forms. Inulin is only available in a powder form whereas oligofructose is available as a powder and as a syrup.
  • Colour — Browning reactions occur readily with oligofructose because of high concentrations of reducing ends. The longer-chain-length inulin has minimal to no browning reaction during heat processing.
  • Flavour-masking benefits — the synergistic effect with high-intensity sweeteners
  • Chain-length distribution — important for mouthfeel characteristics/solubility
  • Particle size/density — important for dispersion
  • Desired sweetness level — of the final product

It is notable that when food and beverage formulators make use of all-natural inulin and oligofructose in combination with HISs, they add prebiotic fibre to the mix as well as replacing sugar and improving taste. That implies an extra measure of food-borne defense against obesity and diabetes, along with numerous other digestive disorders that dietary fibre, in general, impacts in a positive way.

In addition, clinical studies have linked inulin and oligofructose, as prebiotics, to a range of whole-body benefits that extend over a lifetime. By boosting levels of beneficial bifidobacteria in the colon, they can enhance digestive health, function and immunity, and exert positive effects on bone health through improved calcium absorption. They also help maintain healthy body weight in both adolescents and adults. They can increase intestinal levels of bifidobacteria in older people as well, helping to reverse signs of 'digestive ageing,' improving intestinal function while supporting wellness.

That kind of functionality, along with messaging about great taste, reduced sugar, reduced calorie, fibre enrichment and diabetic friendliness, brings into play the substantial marketing benefits of FOS/HIS combinations — a synergy that is truly hard to beat.

Joseph O'Neill is executive vice president of sales and marketing for Beneo-Orafti in North America ( He holds a BS in Biochemistry and MS in Industrial Microbiology.

Cutting-edge Research

Martek's DHA could help prevent Alzheimer's
A pre-clinical study has found that DHA from algae may decrease an important risk factor for late-onset Alzheimer's disease. The mouse study found DHA increases production of a protein that clears the brain of the enzymes that make the plaques thought to cause Alzheimer's.
Read the full article…

Blueberry and green tea protect against stroke
NutraStem, a proprietary formulation of blueberry, green tea, vitamin D3 and carnosine extracts was studied in animal subjects in a double-blind procedure. The results suggest that the group receiving NutraStem had greatly reduced neural damage in the brain and demonstrated significantly reduced motor deficits.
Read the full article…

Do you have newly conducted research on your ingredient (published or unpublished) that you would like included in Cutting-edge Research? Write a short summary and attach a PDF of the study or abstract, and send to
Vitamin K improves children's bone health
A better vitamin K status was associated with more pronounced increase in bone mass in healthy children — yet Western populations are likely vitamin K deficient. The study, published in the British Journal of Nutrition, followed 307 healthy children, average age 11 years, for two years, and measured skeletal bone mineral content.
Read the full article…

Fucoidan improves skin complexion
Fucoidan could be viewed as a potential agent for preventing and treating skin photoaging. Cactus Botanics is one of the top producers of Fucoidan extracted from Laminaria japonica. The research involved an investigation of the inhibitory effects of Fucoidan on MMP-1 expression by in vitro experiments, suggesting that Fucoidan could be viewed as a potential agent for preventing and treating skin photoaging.
Read the full article…

Cutting-edge Research

Martek's DHA could help prevent Alzheimer's
A pre-clinical study has found that DHA from algae may decrease an important risk factor for late-onset Alzheimer's disease. The mouse study found DHA increases production of a protein that clears the brain of the enzymes that make the plaques thought to cause Alzheimer's.
Read the full article…

Blueberry and green tea protect against stroke
NutraStem, a proprietary formulation of blueberry, green tea, vitamin D3 and carnosine extracts was studied in animal subjects in a double-blind procedure. The results suggest that the group receiving NutraStem had greatly reduced neural damage in the brain and demonstrated significantly reduced motor deficits.
Read the full article…

Do you have newly conducted research on your ingredient (published or unpublished) that you would like included in Cutting-edge Research? Write a short summary and attach a PDF of the study or abstract, and send to
Vitamin K improves children's bone health
A better vitamin K status was associated with more pronounced increase in bone mass in healthy children — yet Western populations are likely vitamin K deficient. The study, published in the British Journal of Nutrition, followed 307 healthy children, average age 11 years, for two years, and measured skeletal bone mineral content.
Read the full article…

Fucoidan improves skin complexion
Fucoidan could be viewed as a potential agent for preventing and treating skin photoaging. Cactus Botanics is one of the top producers of Fucoidan extracted from Laminaria japonica. The research involved an investigation of the inhibitory effects of Fucoidan on MMP-1 expression by in vitro experiments, suggesting that Fucoidan could be viewed as a potential agent for preventing and treating skin photoaging.
Read the full article…

Diabetes treatments: from supplements to foods

New research findings into traditional supplemental ingredients are driving new applications for diabetes health. Food formulators are taking note, and incorporating GRAS-approved ingredients into their offerings, and also utilising better-for-you ingredients. Todd Runestad surveys the changing diabetes landscape

Diabetes is closely linked to, in the early stage, metabolic syndrome, and on the later stage, obesity. Indeed, the latter two are so thoroughly linked that their combination has given rise to a new quasi-medical term: diabesity.

Diabetes itself is a group of diseases marked by high levels of blood glucose resulting from defects in insulin production, insulin action or both. As the need for insulin rises, the pancreas gradually loses its ability to produce it. Diabetes can lead to serious complications, from high blood pressure to kidney disease, stroke and premature death, but people with diabetes can take steps to control the disease and lower the risk of complications.

The opportunities this presents to food and supplements manufacturers are clear. And raw-materials suppliers are rising to the occasion to help with the reformulation, integration and introduction of new, novel and better-for-you ingredients to improve the healthiness profile of finished goods.

Alpha-lipoic acid: With metabolic syndrome on everyone's lips, it's notable that lipoic acid has been shown to benefit four of the five symptoms of the condition: excess weight, insulin resistance, atherogenic dyslipidaemia (specifically, low HDL cholesterol and elevated triglycerides), and high blood pressure.1 This makes it an excellent supplement for those wishing to prevent the occurrence of diabetes. But what of full-blown diabetes? For 30 years German doctors have prescribed 'the universal antioxidant' to patients with diabetic neuropathy. It has been shown to improve insulin action and to increase insulin-mediated glucose disposal — but mostly after parenteral administration.2

One recent study aimed to check that state of affairs. In a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, 24 overweight middle-aged subjects were given 600mg alpha-lipoic acid, or placebo, twice daily for four weeks. Insulin sensitivity increased significantly — glucose disposal rate increased from about 3.2 to 5.9mg/kg/minute. The insulin sensitivity index also significantly increased, from about 4.7 to 7.7.3

In the past year, a few case studies have been published about a correlation between alpha-lipoic acid and what is called insulin autoimmune syndrome, a rare disease characterised by low blood-sugar levels and auto-antibodies to insulin.4 Although rare, and reported in only case studies, it probably bears paying some attention to.

Bitter melon (Momordica charantia): Locally known in Bangladesh as the bitter vegetable called karolla, it was first studied in 1999 in Bangladesh on 100 human subjects with moderate diabetes. Drinking an aqueous homogenised suspension of the vegetable pulp led to a significant reduction of both fasting and post-prandial serum glucose levels in 86 per cent of cases, while an additional five per cent showed lowering of only fasting serum-glucose levels.5

A class of chemicals called cucurbitane triterpinoids is the characteristic constituents of M charantia. These were first fractionated from an extract of bitter-melon dried gourds in 2006, by Japanese researchers.6 That kicked off a flurry of very recent animal research into its ability to improve glucose and insulin tolerance. In March 2008, Chinese researchers identified them as mediating glucose uptake and fatty acid oxidation in cells. Furthermore, the momordicosides enhanced fatty-acid oxidation and glucose disposal during glucose-tolerance tests in both insulin-sensitive as well as insulin-resistant mice. Several of the tested compounds had effects comparable to those of insulin.7

In April 2008, researchers from India reported that bitter-gourd extract improves insulin sensitivity, glucose tolerance and insulin signaling in rats induced to insulin resistance by a high-fat diet. Benefits in the 10-week study were seen after only two weeks.8

Cinnamon: Unlike bitter melon, cinnamon tastes good! Although used traditionally as a spice for foods, it has found most of its success from a health-benefit standpoint in the supplements world. There are two types of cinnamon typically found on the market: Cinnamomum zeylanicum nees or C cassia blume. The latter is the focus of scientific research, which finds it improves insulin's action.

In a 2003 animal study, Chinese researchers found cinnamon extracts improve the metabolic action of insulin and help prevent insulin resistance in part by increasing glucose uptake into cells and enhancing the insulin-signaling pathway in muscle.9

Cinnamon's active ingredient appears to be double-linked polyphenol Type-A Polymers. These compounds increase insulin-dependent glucose metabolism in vitro by 20-fold, and mimic insulin.10,11 They also have been shown to reduce blood pressure — making cinnamon effective in preventing some symptoms of metabolic syndrome.

In a human study with 60 men and women with diabetes, those taking 1, 3 or 6g/day cinnamon for 40 days experienced decreases in fasting glucose levels of 18-29 per cent.12 A human study using a lower dose, 500mg/day for 12 weeks, gave 83 per cent of subjects an average eight per cent decrease in fasting blood-sugar levels.13

The active components in cinnamon are not destroyed by heat, so cinnamon could certainly play an enhanced role in processed foods — and even cinnamon sticks added to tea can be beneficial.

HCA: In recent years, Garcinia cambogia has been promoted for weight loss due to various possible effects it may have on the body. First, it is believed to interfere with an enzyme needed to store fat, possibly causing more fat from foods to be eliminated from the body. In addition, it may cause the body to use existing fat stores for energy during prolonged exercise. Ordinarily, carbohydrates are used before fats during exercise. In animal studies, hydroxycitric acid (HCA), a major component of Garcinia cambogia, also seemed to reduce appetite by raising the amount of serotonin in the body. In a 2007 animal study, HCA not only reduced food intake and body-weight gain in obese rats, but it also decreased inflammation, oxidative stress and insulin resistance compared to controls.14

Chromium: This mineral is at the heart of a biologically active complex called Glucose Tolerance Factor or 'GTF,' which is responsible for increasing the action of insulin in the body. Originally applied solely to supplements, it is now finding a home in bars, beverages and even chewing gums.

The two primary forms of chromium on the market are chromium picolinate and niacin-bound chromium polynicotinate. Both have research to back their efficacy.

In a 2006 review, researchers noted that 13 of 15 human clinical trials, including 11 randomised, controlled studies involving more than 1,500 subjects in the chromium-picolinate group, reported significant improvement in at least one outcome of glycaemic control. These areas included reduced blood glucose, insulin, cholesterol and triglyceride levels, and reduced requirements for hypoglycaemic medications.15

In a 2004 double-blind, placebo-controlled trial on niacin-bound chromium, subjects receiving 300mcg/day chromium for three months experienced significantly lowered fasting blood-glucose levels, and modest decreases in triglyceride levels as well as glycosylated haemoglobin, a measure of long-term glucose control.16

Combining chromium with other nutrients is also a developing trend. In 2002, researchers combined niacin-bound chromium with a water-soluble fraction of maitake mushroom and HCA. Diabetic rats receiving the combination had significantly reduced body weight, blood pressure and fasting blood-glucose levels.17

Chromium picolinate was combined with biotin, a water-soluble B-complex vitamin, in a 2006 human clinical trial with 43 patients with impaired glycaemic control. In this double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, those receiving 600mcg/day chromium with 2mg/day biotin for four weeks had a 9.7 per cent reduction in glucose during the two-hour oral glucose-tolerance tests, compared to a 5.1 per cent increase in the control group.18

The combination of chromium picolinate and biotin has been patented as Diachrome. In a 2005 analysis, economists at Widener University in Pennsylvania concluded that using this combination among the 1.17 million newly diagnosed patients with type-2 diabetes each year could deliver a lifetime cost savings of $42 billion, or $36,000 per patient.19

As well as chromium, the trace mineral selenium has been shown to influence blood-insulin levels and insulin effectiveness. Low levels of zinc are associated with diabetes and cardiovascular disease. And vanadium compounds have been shown to have insulinlike effects.20 Combining these trace minerals with chromium can offer intriguing intellectual-property opportunities for savvy developers.

Fibre: The indigestible part of plants is known as fibre. Soluble fibres such as psyllium, flax, gums and oats form gels in the intestine and slow the rate of nutrient absorption, which helps reduce blood-sugar levels after meals are consumed. Insoluble fibres from whole grains increase bulk and slow down the movement of matter through the bowel. Both fibre types prolong gastric emptying and bind cholesterol to limit its absorption. Dietary fibre also inhibits the activity of alpha-amylase and postpones the release of glucose from starch.21

Water-soluble fibre, such as oat bran, helps balance blood sugar. Researchers tested post-meal glucose and insulin effects of whole-kernel rye bread, whole-meal rye bread containing oat beta-glucan concentrate, dark durum wheat pasta and white bread made from white wheat flour. Each product provided 50g carbohydrates. Upon eating, 10 men and 10 women with normal glucose tolerance had their fasting and eight post-meal blood samples collected at 15-30 minute intervals for three hours to determine levels of blood glucose, glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide (GIP), glucagons-like peptide 1 (GLP-1), and serum insulin.

Glucose responses and the rate of gastric emptying after consumption of the two rye breads and pasta did not differ from the white wheat bread (with the exception of GLP-1 response to the rye bread containing oat beta-glucan). However, GIP and GLP-1 responses, which both stimulate insulin response, and insulin were lower after eating rye breads and pasta than white wheat bread. Researchers concluded the insulin response is determined more from the form of food rather than the amount of fibre or type of cereal in the food.22

A further study measured the effects of fibre enrichment of pasta and fat content on gastric emptying, GLP-1, glucose and insulin responses to a meal. Researchers added 1.7g psyllium, which was enough fibre to qualify for a US FDA claim for reduced cholesterol and risk of coronary heart disease. The psyllium-enriched pasta had no significant effect on gastric emptying or the area under the curve for GLP-1, insulin or glucose compared with the control pasta. However, when they added 30g sunflower oil and 3g sodium propionate, the 10 subjects experienced significant reductions in gastric emptying, an increase in GLP-1, and reduced glucose and insulin concentrations.23

Resistant starch: Recently, it has become accepted that there are not merely two forms of fibre, soluble and insoluble. A third type — resistant starch — has come on to the scene. These so-called nonglycaemic carbohydrates resist digestion in the small intestine, are fermented like some dietary fibres to provide long-term energy, and can increase insulin sensitivity in healthy people. In one study, 10 healthy people ate two identical meals, but one contained 60g resistant starch (Novelose 260, National Starch). The following morning, a fibre-free meal tolerance test was taken and postprandial insulin sensitivity assessed. Results showed that those eating the resistant starch meal the day before experienced lower postprandial blood glucose and insulin, with a higher insulin sensitivity the next day.24

In sum, seven published studies have shown beneficial effects of natural R-2 resistant starch on glucose and insulin response. When substituted for flour, it lowers the glycaemic response of foods in a dose-dependent manner.25

Beta-glucan: In 2006, researchers added a variable to the resistant-starch story by including different quantities of beta-glucan to muffins. While beta-glucan decreased glucose and insulin under the curve between 17 and 33 per cent, and resistant starch's numbers were 24 and 38 per cent, when both functional ingredients were combined, the result was 33 and 59 per cent for glucose and insulin, respectively.26

Before formulators go out and begin adding beta-glucan to meals, they would do well to heed the results of a recent test carried out in the Department of Food Science & Microbiology at the University of Milan in Italy.27 Researchers there added beta-glucan to barley flour or whole-wheat flour and made cookies and crackers. In general, they found that cookies responded better to the addition of barley fibre than crackers, highlighting the complexity of the effect barley fibre may exert when added to different food products to address glucose metabolism and diabetes.

Salba: This novel grain from Argentina (Salvia hispanica) has been introduced into the market, and boasts high quantities of fibre and the omega-3 alpha-linolenic acid as well as protein, calcium, magnesium, iron and antioxidants. More to the point, it is showing benefit for diabetics.

In a study published in November 2007, researchers in Toronto (the town that made the Glycaemic Index famous) gave 20 diabetics either 37g/day Salba or wheat bran for 12 weeks while maintaining their conventional diabetes therapies. Compared with the control group, the Salba group experienced reduced systolic blood pressure by 6.3mmHg and C-reactive protein levels, a marker of inflammation.28

Bioactives for diabetes

Alpha-lipoic acid
Bitter melon (Momordica charantia)
Maitake mushrooms
Trace minerals selenium, zinc, vanadium
Resistant starch
Tea, coffee, wine

coffeeDRINK your diabetes away
Why put a functional bioactive into a drink when certain drinks themse
lves have demonstrated diabetes benefits? Next to water, the top liquids consumed worldwide are probably tea, coffee and wine, and it is precisely these three that have been shown to help, under certain conditions.

The most abundant green-tea catechin, epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), has been shown to have glucose-lowering effects in animals by mimicking insulin and decreasing liver-glucose production.1 Further animal studies carried out by DSM with its Teavigo EGCG extract found it improved glucose tolerance and blood-glucose levels in food-deprived rats in a dose-dependent manner. It also increased insulin secretion and reduced triglyceride levels.2

Research published in April 2008 identified the polyphenolic content of tea as well as wine as being the mechanism for inhibiting the activity of alpha-glucosidase, an enzyme that triggers the absorption of glucose. Researchers tested red and white wines, and green, white, oolong and black teas. Notably, while red wine unsurprisingly contained 10 times the polyphenolic content compared to white wine, black tea had the highest content in the tea varieties, followed by white tea.3 Other researchers in 2008 identified black-tea polyphenols that mimic insulin and insulin-like growth factor-1.4

Other recent research unveiled at the summer 2007 American Chemical Society meeting could have ramifications for soft-drink developers who are battling the association between high-fructose corn syrup and diabetes. Researchers found that adding EGCG to soft drinks improved the beverages' levels of reactive carbonyls — the compounds associated with unbound fructose and glucose molecules, and found at higher levels in diabetics.5

Coffee has been shown to house the ability to improve insulin sensitivity, with decaffeinated coffee being even more beneficial. The issue at stake is researchers found it takes seven cups per day to have the effect.6

Even the superfruit pomegranate has ancillary benefits to diabetes — more specifically, metabolic-syndrome symptoms. A 2006 human clinical study in Iran found 40g/day pomegranate juice from concentrate for eight weeks led to significant reductions in total and LDL cholesterol, but no changes in HDL cholesterol or triglycerides.7


1. Waltner-Law ME, et al. Epigallocatechin gallate, a constituent of green tea, represses hepatic glucose production. J Biol Chem 2002 Sep 20;277(38):34933-40.
2. Wolfram S, et al. Epigallocatechin gallate supplementation alleviates diabetes in rodents. J Nutr 2006 Oct;136(10):2512-8.
3. Kwon Y, et al. Inhibitory potential of wine and tea against alpha-amylase and alpha-glucosidase for management of hyperglycemia linked to type-2 diabetes. J Food Biochem 2008;32(1):15-31.
4. Amy R, et al. Black tea polyphenols mimic insulin-insulin-like growth-factor 1 signalling to the longevisty factor FOXO1a. Aging Cell 2008 Feb;7(1):69-77.
6. Hu G, et al. Joint association of coffee consumption and other factors to the risk of type 2 diabetes: a prospective study in Finland. Int J Obes 2006 Dec;30(12):1742-9.
7. Esmaillzadeh A, et al. Cholesterol-lowering effect of concentrated pomegranate juice consumption in type II diabetic patients with hyperlipidemia. Int J Vitam Nutr Res 2006 May;76(3):147-51.

Branded ingredients take aim at diabetes
Fibre is recognised as a diabetics' best friend, but some fibres are more equal than others. Ingredients supplier Frutarom tested 19 different fibre types in vitro to see which was best in binding glucose. The top group: psyllium husk as well as its Fenulife fenugreek extract.

"The reduction of glucose absorption can be the mechanism for earlier observations that FenuLife can reduce postprandial blood glucose in vivo," says Marian Verbruggen, PhD, head of medical sciences and regulatory affairs for Frutarom. "FenuLife is superior to many other fibres marketed for the same application: blood-sugar reduction."

And yet, it seems, not all fenugreek is created equal either. TSI Health Science has a patent-pending fenugreek extract called Promilin, standardised to contain 20 per cent 4-hydroxyisoleucine. This amino-acid derivative assists the pancreas in producing insulin. TSI has conducted bioactivity testing on Promilin, showing it reduces glucose concentrations and stimulates insulin secretion across a range of concentrations.

"TSI is sponsoring clinical studies to further understand and validate benefit claims surrounding glucose transport/glycogen resynthesis, weight management and glucose metabolism in healthy people, as well as individuals with impaired glucose tolerance," says TSI president Larry Kolb.

NHS' Pycnogenol boasts more than 220 published studies over 35 years, everything from osteoarthritis relief to improved sperm quality. "Horphag Research, the exclusive worldwide suppliers of Pycnogenol, continues to invest around $1.5 million a year in Pycnogenol research. In total, about 5,000 patients have been studied," says Frank Schonlau, PhD, director of scientific communications for Horphag/NHS. Pycnogenol can also lower blood-glucose levels — a single dose of 50mg/day for three weeks is effective. Another clinical study showed Pycnogenol, in addition to oral diabetic drugs such as metformin, significantly lowered blood-glucose levels.

Supplier giant DSM is another firm committed to R&D. Its latest launch, InsuVital, is made from a casein milk protein and leverages hidden pancreatic reserves. In five studies, it shows a 30 per cent reduction in blood-glucose levels.

"It has high solubility and low viscosity," says Philip Rijken, head of nutrition science at DSM. "It has good taste and is transparent in solution. It is good for applications such as water, fruit juice, dairy and bars."

On the horizon, two Florida scientists have recently discovered a compound that exists in tropical fruits and vegetables and makes sugary foods safe for diabetics. Dubbed Emulin, it is going through its last stages of R&D.

"It's a sugar defense mechanism that can be added to any sugar-laden manufactured food," says Joseph Aherns, PhD, of ATM Metabolics. "It protects the body from the glycaemic impact of that food without altering the taste."


Select suppliers: offering diabetes solutions

Fibersol-2 is a digestion-resistant maltodextrin that is stable; has low viscosity; is transparent in solution; and adds virtually no flavour to beverages, baked goods, cereals, dairy and frozen dairy items, soups, meal replacements, dietary supplements, or medical and functional foods.

Beneo inulin and Beneo oligofructose are soluble dietary fibres that are not digested in the stomach or small intestine, but reach the large intestine intact. Here, unlike most other fibres, they are selectively fermented by intestinal flora and maintain optimal gut function.

Xtend sucromalt and isomaltulose are low-glycaemic, natural liquid sweeteners that provide food and beverage makers with a natural and slow-release carbohydrate syrup. These fully digestible, low-glycaemic syrups provide sweetness and body for beverages, bars, ice cream, jellies and yoghurts.

Cosucra Groupe Warcoing
Fibruline DS2 is a de-sugared inulin marketed as a low-calorie sweetener with a particular focus on the bakery and confectionery industries. DS2 contains one calorie per gram as opposed to four calories for regular sugar.

Litesse polydextrose is a low-glycaemic ingredient that can replace 10 per cent of flour in baked goods while providing many of its functional properties. It is 1kcal/g, adds fibre without affecting mouthfeel, and helps with moisture retention.

InsuVital hydrolysed casein stimulates secretion of insulin from the pancreas. It is available as a powder for foods and drinks.

Fenulife is a concentrate of the beneficial galactomannans in fenugreek used for supplements. By regulating sugar absorption, it turns fast carbs into slow carbs.

GTC Nutrition
OatVantage oat beta-glucan has a glycaemic response of about one fifth that of glucose. It increases viscosity of stomach contents, which slows stomach emptying, prolongs the absorption of energy from a meal and decreases fat absorption. These effects exert control over insulin release.

Integrity Nutraceuticals
Cinnulin PF is the only patented aqueous cinnamon extract available, manufactured through a water-based process using no chemical solvents. It is useful for healthy glucose levels, body composition, blood pressure and antioxidant function in healthy individuals. It is a water-soluble cinnamon suitable for capsules, tablets, powder or liquid.

InterHealth Nutraceuticals
ChromeMate is a unique, patented form of biologically active niacin-bound chromium called chromium nicotinate or polynicotinate that increases the safety and effectiveness of chromium, an essential trace mineral required for normal insulin function.

FiberAid soluble fibre is an arabinogalactan sourced from the larch tree. GRAS affirmed, it is water soluble, stable to heat, pH and salt concentration.

Maitake Products
Grifron SX-Fraction is a proprietary ingredient to maintain healthy blood-sugar levels and support healthy sensitivity to insulin.

National Starch
Hi-Maize resistant starch, as a substitute for flour, decreases glycaemic and insulin impact, and increases insulin sensitivity. It can be used in low-moisture food systems to also improve texture and processing properties.

Nutraceutical Group
Viscofiber is a high-viscosity and high-concentration oat beta-glucan soluble fibre. Up to 12 times more concentrated than oat bran, Viscofiber improves glycaemic response and glucose management, among other benefits.

Nutrition 21
Chromax chromium picolinate is a highly absorbable form of chromium that provides the body with the chromium it needs to help promote healthy blood sugar, fight food cravings and support cardiovascular health. Diachrome Diabetes Essentials are powered by Chromax and biotin.

Phase 2 for supplements and StarchLite for foods is derived from the white kidney bean. It reduces absorption of starch calories and reduces the glycaemic index of white bread when added to the recipe.

Source One Global Partners
Sytrinol is a proprietary formula of citrus bioflavonoids and palm tocotrienols. As well as proving to be a novel cholesterol and triglyceride-lowering supplement, Sytrinol also improves glycaemic control in individuals with metabolic syndrome.

Toyo Bio-Pharma
Toyo Kan-Sho, derived from the leaves and stems of the sweet-potato plant, supports healthy blood-glucose levels, maintains healthy blood pressure already within normal range and promotes liver health by regulating fat accumulation.

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Natural Foods Merchandiser

People News

Boulder, Colo.-based Pharmaca Integrative Pharmacy appointed David Maher to its board of directors. Maher brings 35 years of experience in the retail and health care industries.

Santa Cruz, Calif.-based California Certified Organic Farmers appointed Claudia Reid as the first full-time policy director in the organization's 35-year history. Reid brings more than 25 years of policy expertise to CCOF. She previously served as policy director for the California Coalition for Food and Farming, and was also the legislative director for the University of California, Agriculture and Natural Resources.

Wilmington, Del.–based Produce for Better Health Foundation appointed Theresa Kaufmann as manager of development. Prior to joining the foundation two years ago, Kaufmann worked with Albert's Organics.

Rob Lessin purchased Robbie's Natural Products, a 25-year-old California-based manufacturer of low-sodium barbeque sauces and condiments. Lessin was formerly owner of the Select Herb Tea Co., based in Oxnard, Calif.

Coastline Produce, based in Salinas, Calif., hired Bill Vargas as a sales professional and product manager for broccoli and cauliflower. Vargas has more than 20 years of experience in the produce industry, having worked as a broker and salesman with Dole and Growers Express.

The Greenfield, Mass.-based Organic Trade Association's board of directors announced that the OTA's chief operating officer, David Gagnon, will be interim executive director after June 30, until a new executive director is hired.

UAS Laboratories, based in Eden Prairie, Minn., hired Dr. Phillip Kamps as director of sales and marketing. Kamps is a chiropractor with extensive knowledge of wellness and health care.

Marc de Grandpre, former managing director for Major League Soccer's New York Red Bulls, joined antioxidant drink maker Purple Beverage Co. as vice president of marketing.

Natural Foods Merchandiser

Company News

Boulder, Colo.-based Ellie's Organic Home Center, owned and operated by Eco-Products, a manufacturer of environmentally friendly foodservice products, is moving locations within Boulder. The larger space will enable Ellie's to expand existing departments and add a conservation and education center, an apparel and linens department, and an organic wine and beer section.

Low-carb manufacturer Atkins Nutritionals, based in Denver, chose Minnesota-based Kohnstamm Communications as its public relations agency to rebrand and relaunch the Atkins product line after a 2007 change of ownership. Kohnstamm's other accounts include Thai Kitchen and Honest Tea.

Planet Dog was named one of America's best places to work in 2008 by Outside magazine, in partnership with the Outdoor Industry Association and Best Companies Group. The award was based on benefits, compensation, job satisfaction, environmental initiatives and community outreach programs. Portland, Maine-based Planet Dog designs and develops dog products.

Nederland, Colo.-based Green Marketing, a marketing strategy and consulting firm, announced it is now a full-service marketing agency.

Austin, Texas-based American Botanical Council and the Amazon Center for Environmental Education and Research announced that their 2008 Botanical Medicines from the Amazon and the Andes workshop tour will take place Sept. 26 through Oct. 5. Participants will learn about the edible and medicinal plants of the Peruvian Amazon rain forest, including visits to markets where local herbs are sold, explorations of the Inkaterra Field Reserve, the Useful Plants Trail and the Garden of Medicinal Plants. Continuing education credit is available for certain health care providers.

At its SmartMarketing Conference in March, The International Dairy Foods Association awarded the best overall print ad to Livengood/Nowack's "Viva la Pasture" on behalf of Organic Valley. The ad was part of a campaign that included Cows Unite webisodes, ads and posters.

Simi Valley, Calif.-based manufacturer derma e Natural Bodycare is now 100 percent wind-powered.

Natural Foods Merchandiser volume XXVIII/number 6/p. 72