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Discovering how plant foods reduce appetite and keep people feeling fuller for longer is a new Plant & Food Research programme receiving investment from New Zealand food companies and government.

In 2010, the research programme secured $19.2 million over 6 years from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) together with substantial financial backing from both ZESPRI and Sanitarium as well as Hansells Food Group, Comvita, NZ Extracts, Simplot, Bell Tea & Coffee and input from Yarrows.

The Plant & Food Research programme will also involve key scientists in this area from the University of Auckland and Massey University. In addition, overseas experts will have an important input into our understanding of the potential appetite control mechanisms triggered as food passes along the digestive tract.

Dr Kieran Elborough, General Manager of Science for Food Innovation at Plant & Food Research, says, “What we learn will be used to develop and support proprietary ingredients and food concepts for New Zealand-based companies. We will also use the knowledge to select fruits, vegetables and cereals with an enhanced ability to affect appetite as well. Ingredients and whole foods from this programme could also ultimately be combined with other non-plant or dairy-derived ingredients with similar appetite control effects.”

ZESPRI Food Science Advisor Lynley Drummond says, “We’re looking forward to the opportunity to support Plant & Food Research and better understand the role of fresh kiwifruit as part of a healthy diet, In particular, the role kiwifruit can have in making people feel full and the potential use of kiwifruit, either on their own or in combination with other foods, to moderate food intake.”

Marketing Manager at Sanitarium New Zealand Mark Roper says there is a demand for food products made from wholesome, natural ingredients that are good for us. “Sanitarium is interested in natural ingredients and foods that help people feel fuller and make it easier for them to manage their weight and maintain a healthy lifestyle. This programme will help us develop products that best meet these needs.”

This research has potential for New Zealand companies both domestically and through export offshore. The international weight management food market was worth $513 billion in 2009 and the appetite control portion of that market was worth $17 billion.

An exciting outcome

As part of the programme, the research team screened more than 900 plant extracts. They found a number of compounds that stimulated the release of hormones that help to regulate appetite. However, one compound stood out from the others  – a plant extract now commercially known as Amarasate™. Plant & Food Research scientist Dr John Ingram and colleagues are working to optimise the required dosage and to develop Amarasate™ into a supplement and functional food product.

Useful links

This Science Daily article describes the randomised, double-blind, placebo controlled study that demonstrated the effectiveness of Amarasate™ as an appetite suppressant: 'Bitter brake' activates gut hormones and suppresses food intake.

Plant & Food Research have a fact card regarding chemical receptors and satiety: Less is more.

 

    Published 15 November 2010, Updated 23 January 2018