Cranberries show promise for improved gut health

19 Nov 2018

Researchers are just beginning to understand the link between the gut and many chronic health conditions, leading to growing interest in prebiotic ingredients. According to a new study, cranberries are the latest food to show prebiotic potential.

Cranberries show promise for improved gut health

Interest in gut health continues to gain ground, as researchers have started to uncover links between the gut microbiota and disease risk well beyond digestive health, such as atherosclerosis, hypertension, kidney disease and type 2 diabetes. Emerging evidence suggests that even mood and brain structure could be related to the bacterial composition of the gut.

In the food industry, probiotics continue to dominate the market for gut health ingredients, but awareness of prebiotics – the ingredients that feed beneficial bacteria – is growing. According to a Global Industry Analysts’ report, demand for prebiotic-containing products, such as health drinks, infant food, dairy, meat and bakery products could drive the market to reach $7.8 billion by 2022. For comparison, the same organisation predicts the market for probiotics will exceed $63 billion that year.

With strong market potential, the message from researchers is that identifying foods that support better gut health could have a significant impact on overall public health.

In this latest pilot trial, researchers from Tufts University found cranberries may improve gut health in people consuming low fibre diets rich in meat and dairy. Thirty grams of freeze dried whole cranberry powder each day helped reinstate a healthy microbiome.

The study was funded by a US non-profit organisation called The Cranberry Institute, which is dedicated to supporting research to improve market opportunities for cranberry growers. Its members include major players like Fruit d'Or and Ocean Spray Cranberries, but research into cranberries’ health benefits stands to benefit European suppliers of cranberry powders and extracts too, such as Berrico, Iprona and Naturex.

It is just the latest in a host of studies suggesting health benefits from cranberries, and cranberry suppliers already profit from research into the berries’ antioxidant content, their potential for limiting urinary tract infections, and for improving vascular function and cholesterol profiles.

Research backing the benefits of cranberry powder could have a halo effect too, potentially boosting sales of other cranberry products, such as whole dried cranberries used in baked goods, or cranberry juice drinks, for example, as consumers tend to associate the benefits of specific ingredients with related products.

When it comes to gut health, industry still has some work to do to promote prebiotic ingredients. A lack of consumer understanding about the function of prebiotics continues to be a barrier to greater uptake among food and beverage companies. Researchers have suggested that one possible approach could be to combine prebiotic ingredients with probiotics, which already enjoy considerable market acceptance.

Related news

Stevia outpaces aspartame in new product launches

Stevia outpaces aspartame in new product launches

27 Nov 2018

The number of new stevia-sweetened foods and drinks overtook new products with aspartame in 2017, according to global data from Innova Market Insights.

Read more 
Nuts gain from awareness of healthy fats

Nuts gain from awareness of healthy fats

19 Nov 2018

Demand for products containing nuts is on the rise, aided by ongoing research into their health benefits and growing consumer understanding of healthy fats.

Read more 
Egg substitutes driven by vegan, allergen-free demand

Egg substitutes driven by vegan, allergen-free demand

13 Nov 2018

Egg replacers have long been used as a way to avoid to the price fluctuations often associated with real eggs, but recently interest has been driven by manufacturer demand for clean label and plant-based ingredients, allowing companies to make more veg...

Read more 
Whey protein on the rise across food categories

Whey protein on the rise across food categories

13 Nov 2018

Whey protein remains the most popular protein ingredient for athletes by far, but numerous whey protein ingredients have emerged over the past few years, in applications that take it well beyond sports nutrition.

Read more 
Could regulation tempt the industry to renew focus on low fat foods?

Could regulation tempt the industry to renew focus on low fat foods?

7 Nov 2018

The UK government aims to cut calories by 20% by 2024 in a range of popular foods, potentially shifting focus back onto foods’ fat content as companies strive to reach this target.

Read more 
Allergen-free foods gain momentum

Allergen-free foods gain momentum

5 Nov 2018

Launches of allergen-free foods have increased in recent years – and not just because of increased prevalence of food allergy.

Read more 
Enzyme technology slashes sugar in fruit juice

Enzyme technology slashes sugar in fruit juice

2 Nov 2018

Israeli researchers have developed a new technology to cut sugar by up to 80% in fruit juice, by using enzymes that boost the fibre content at the same time.

Read more 
What can blockchain do for the food industry?

What can blockchain do for the food industry?

1 Nov 2018

International food companies have started to embrace blockchain technology to help trace food and ingredients all along the supply chain. What are the potential benefits for the industry?

Read more 
The mainstreaming of meat alternatives

The mainstreaming of meat alternatives

26 Oct 2018

Tofu and lentils still have their place in a vegetarian diet, but a new generation of meat alternatives makes it easier than ever for consumers to switch to plant-based options – even the most enthusiastic meat eaters.

Read more 
Industry innovation targets gelatine alternatives

Industry innovation targets gelatine alternatives

26 Oct 2018

Many alternatives to animal-derived gelatine already exist, although none is a perfect replacement. Now, rising interest in vegetarian ingredients has led to a new wave of innovation in the sector.

Read more