Superfoods scope expands as consumers desire immunity-boosting yeast, fibers and seeds
05 Aug 2020 --- The convergence of the COVID-19 pandemic with evolving eating behaviors is expanding the scope of the superfoods market. As consumer awareness of vitamin and mineral synergies expands, demand for superfoods that aid in the absorption of beneficial compounds is propelling product development. Consumers seek formats for these nutritious foods that are easily incorporated into daily meals. Furthermore, NutritionInsight explores trending ingredients in this space, which include nutritional yeasts, super fibers and various formats of chia seeds.
“The market was changed rapidly due to the COVID-19 outbreak. In order to be specific, the market demand was turned to immunity products. The acerola and echinacea food supplements were the main protagonists. Also, the elderberry and papaya which are known for their immunity enchantment abilities had a significant boost as well,” says Thanasis Vlassopoulos, Product Developer and Regulatory Manager at Superfoods Nature’s Best.
Standalone vitamin C remains a popular supplement offering, but consumers are gaining awareness of compounds that aid in its absorption when taken together with the vitamin. “Nowadays consumers are looking for a combination of nature flavonoids from rose hip, citrus, acerola and so on, to maximize the absorption of vitamin C,” says Vlassopoulos.
Targeting sleep and insomnia, Superfoods Nature’s Best launched the product Superfoods Sleep Mood, a combination of Passion flower, California poppy, Jujube with natural 5-HTP (from Griffonia seeds) with melatonin in order to provide consumers with a rapid, pleasant and restorative sleep period.
In the energy category, the company offers with the product Superfoods Hippophaes Energy – a combination of adaptogenic superfoods (ashwagandha, schisandra, ginseng and eleutherococcus) with nutrients such as Q10, vitamins B5 and B12, and natural “boosters” (guarana and sea buckthorn).
For female hormonal regulation, the manufacturer offers the product Superfoods Hippophaes Woman, a combination of black cohosh with red clover, ginger, rhodiola and resveratrol with vitamins A, D and E in order to support the hormonal balance of the women into menopause.
The company is marketed as the first in Greece to introduce superfood bars as a healthy snack based on superfoods. “Last year we created three superfoods bars based on apricot, acerola, cranberry, raspberry, spirulina, honey, carob, honey, tahini and black chocolate, which gained a market share of healthy snacks in Greek pharmacies,” says Vlassopoulos.
Trending nutritional yeasts
Thanks to their nutritional profiles and health benefits coming from proteins, vitamins, minerals and fibers, nutritional yeasts have emerged as a trendy superfood, particularly in the US and in Europe, as highlighted by Vanhove.
Gnosis by Lesaffre offers a wide range of products to meet this demand. “Lynside Forte Se+ is one of them,” highlights Vanhove. “This yeast is an organically bound selenium yeast, that means during the fermentation process, selenium is incorporated by the yeast, into its amino-acids pool. Lynside Forte Se+, thanks to its selenium content, contributes to the normal function of the immune system. In the Lynside range, we can find other products such as nutritional yeasts, enriched yeasts and fortified yeasts in minerals or B vitamins.
The company observes two major positionings for yeasts. “The first one is linked to products with health benefits. A kind of product that can be found in the market that is positioned as having a health benefit is Sélégerme by Gerblé, a mix between brewer’s yeast, wheat germ and selenium-enriched yeast with an antioxidant benefit. In the US, Bob’s Red Mill has chosen to promote the yeast as an ingredient rich in B vitamins,” details Vanhove.
The second positioning is healthy seasoning to reduce the use of traditional seasoning. “In this type of application, Superlevure from Gayelord Hauser is a very interesting brewer’s yeast, naturally rich in protein and B vitamins, to sprinkle on salad or soup. Another one, is the yeast range proposed by Bianca Simoes, in Brazil, to enhance the taste of your meals and to reduce the use of salt,” says Vanhove.
In the context of scientific backing, in particular for Lynside Forte Se+, Gnosis by Lesaffre has conducted bioavailability studies. “The result of these studies is that Lynside Forte Se+ is the highest bioavailable source of selenium compared to selenite. This high bioavailability is linked to the selenomethionine, the organic form of selenium, contained into Lynside Forte Se+. Indeed, selenomethionine has a better bioavailability compared to the organic forms of selenium (selenite, selenate and selenide),” explains Vanhove.
Soluble fibers with prebiotic benefits are another example of a superfood gaining significant traction. Michael Segal, Innovation Director at Tate & Lyle, remarks: “We launched versions of our Promitor Soluble Fibre specifically designed to provide a soft texture in protein bars and cookies, as well as all the other benefits of Promitor such as high fiber, low sugar and carbs, prebiotic benefits, high digestive tolerance and great taste.”
Segal highlights emerging evidence that demonstrate that fibers with a prebiotic effect, such as Promitor, increase the beneficial microbiota in the large intestine, which in turn have the potential to improve many aspects of our health, such as calcium absorption, immunity and metabolic health. “Some of the science in this area is still emerging, but the full potential is incredibly exciting, and soluble fibers could prove to be a very potent superfood that has been right under our noses this whole time.”
Most people around the world are not meeting their recommended daily intake of fiber, Segal stresses. “Over the last decade or so, fibers have been investigated for their health benefits that go beyond the ‘traditional’ benefits known for generations, such as laxation and regularity. In particular, recently, much research has been undertaken to understand the effect fiber has on gut health as well as its various implications for brain and cardiovascular health.”
Tate & Lyle has also launched a liquid version of its STA-LITE Polydextrose in China, which is the first liquid polydextrose ever to be available on that market. “Besides fiber, other trending superfoods include CBD and MCT oil, algae, seaweed, kale, spirulina, cocoa, seeds such as chia, lin, pumpkin, goji berries, sunflower and hemp, seasonings such as cinnamon and curcumin, ginger, dates and maca,” says Segal.
Cheering for chia
Chia seed and its by-products of chia oil, chia oil powder and chia protein flour are notably trending in the category of superfoods. “Chia seed is not only the highest source of plant-based omega 3 in the world but also a known booster of the immune system,” says Cristián Miguens, Director at Andean Grain Products. “In addition, mainstream consumers are now enrolling themselves on low carbs, vegan, paleo, ketogenic, Atkins or gluten-free diets. This consumer is finding good sources of vegan protein, low net carbs, vegan fatty acids and fiber on this range of products.”
Andean Grain Products spotlights defatted chia flour, which was recently approved by EU authorities, as another key superfood launching now in Europe. This variety contains more protein than normal chia flour. Among other trending superfoods spotlighted by Andean Grain Products are berries from Patagonia – calafate, maqui, cassis and elderberry. These berries only grow in the extreme south of Chile and Argentina, and according to Miguens, their level of antioxidants is “second to none.”
Looking ahead, superfoods that are easy to incorporate to consumers’ daily diets “with little creativity” are hailed by Miguens as the ingredients that will be most successful with consumers. “Eating pure basil juice can be very healthy but it is difficult to include in your daily diet. On the contrary, freeze-dried berry powders constitute a pure and versatile source of antioxidants and anthocyanins and can be included in innumerable recipes, juices or smoothies,” he concludes.
By Benjamin Ferrer
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