The global market for phytosterols was recently estimated by Leatherhead Food International to be worth some US$555m to $585m in2008. It is seen as one of the most compelling areas of the functional food market; the first carrier products were fats and margarines, but now sterol-containing juices, milks and yoghurts are coming on the market.
Numerous companies are active in the market, giving manufacturers ample options for their supply partners. Stand out names include Raisio with its Benecol plant stanol ingredient, and Unilever, whose Pro.activ plant sterol-based, cholesterol-lowering range has won health claims in the EU.
Cargill supplies both esterified and free sterol forms under the brand name CoroWise, while Canadian firm Forbes Medi-Tech offers the Reducol branded plant sterol ingredient. Cognis – recently acquired by BASF – offers the plant sterols under the brand name Heart Choice in North America. Outside North America Cognis’ phytosterols are marketed with the ingredient brand name Vegapure.
Other suppliers include Blue California, which launched a water soluble phytosterol back in 2007.
The Archer Daniels Midland company's plant sterol range was first introduced in the US about a decade ago, and had GRAS status for use in spreads, salad dressings, health drinks, health bars and yogurt-type products.
The initial offerings were CardioAid phytosterols, used mainly in dietary supplements and other products were added functionaly was not required, and CardioAid-S phytosterol esters for foods. In 2004, it launched three new variants - CardioAid-GA, -M - which can be used in low-fat or fat free foods and CardioAid-WD for beverages.
Fish oil is by far the biggest source for omega-3, estimated by Frost & Sullivan to account for some 85 percent of the market by volume.
Almost all the fish oil produced in the world comes from South America and Morocco, and only a tiny percentage of global crude fish oil production is actually channeled into the market for human consumption; with the rest being used for fish feed and animal feed.
According to the Global Organization for EPA and DHA (GOED), an omega-3 trade association, around 6-10 percent of the total 1m tons crude fish oil produced per year is refined to produce omega-3 for human consumption.
Major suppliers of marine-sourced omega-3 include Ocean Nutrition, Lipid Nutrition, DSM, Croda, Epax, Cognis, Denomega, and GC Rieber, which has a relatively low profile, but which is one of the leading players in terms of volume production.
The omega-3 market is not just about fish oil, however, and algal omega-3 is currently dominated by two firms: Martek Biosciences (US) with its life’sDHA range, and Lonza (EU) with its DHAid range. Only yesterday, India’s Avesthagen Limited announced the completion of its development of microalgae-derived DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), with the technology validated for commercialization. The ingredient is branded AvestaDHA.
Omega-3-rich oils from krill are also making waves in the omega-3 segment, with Canada's Neptune Technologies and Bioressources, Norway's Aker Biomarine, and Israel's Enzymotec all offering krill oil ingredients.
Plant sources of omega-3 also abound, Major suppliers of flax omega-3 include Glanbia Nutritionals, Bioriginal, Degussa, Biodroga, Barleans and Arista Industries.
Beta glucan from oats is renowned for its potential to reduce LDL (bad) cholesterol. Two forms are widely available: Beta-glucan from barley or from oats. Studies show that barley beta-glucan may reduce LDL cholesterol by 7 to 24 percent, while oat beta-glucan may cut LDL levels by 6 to 12 percent.
Key suppliers, and their ingredients, include Cargill with its Barliv barley betafiber, said to be a concentrated beta-glucan soluble fiber derived from whole grain barley.
SunOpta offers and PolyCell Technologies’ Barley Balance range, claimed to be “the most concentrated source of barley beta-glucan soluble fiber produced by a natural and sustainable process”.
In Europe, Swedish life science firm Biovelop AB launched an oat-based soluble fiber ingredient in September 2010 called PromOat, and said to contain 35 per cent beta glucan (soluble fiber). The company claims is ideal for use in foods unrelated to oats, such as smoothies, condiments and ready meals
Swiss company CreaNutrition also offers an oat-derived beta-glucan ingredient called Oatwell.
The vitamin K market is dominated by branded ingredients, with Blue California’s Vitamin K2-All Trans, NattoPharma’s MenaQ7, PL Thomas’ Vitamin K2-MK7, and recent entrant Kappa with a
Xsto Solutions was recently named as the exclusive US distributor of Kappa’s K2Vital Vitamin K Product Line. Norway’s Kappa announced its de When it comes to vitamin K, the mantra is very much “quality and not quantity”.
And last October, Viridis BioPharma/Synergia Life Sciences announced a 10-fold expansion of its vitamin K production facility, a move which sees the company’s pharmaceutical-grade ingredient – MenaquinGold – extend its availability to all dietary supplements.
The potential heart health benefits of tocotrienols – via cholesterol reduction – date back to the mid 1980s and a paper by Dr Asaf Qureshi at the USDA, which coincided approximately with the first commercial extraction of tocotrienols from palm oil.
The main supplier of palm oil-derived tocotrienols is Carotech, while Singaporean companies Davos Life Sciences and Vance Group are also players. Tocotrienol-rich fractions are also available from rice bran sources, with the Eastman Chemical Company dominating this source, with its NuTriene ingredient.
The most recently discovered source of tocotrienol is annatto, and is commercialized by Massachusetts-based American River Nutrition. The company’s DeltaGold ingredient naturally contains only delta- and gamma-tocotrienol, and is tocopherol-free.
A growing area of interest is proteins derived from milk reported to offer blood pressure and vascular improvements. Key players in this field include DSM with its tensVida (formerly TensGuard) ingredient, which is composed of the tripeptide isoleucine-proline-proline (IPP) derived from milk. Puleva Biotech is also looking at the potential of hydrolyzed caseins from goat's milk to prevent the development of high blood pressure.
Furthermore, Glanbia Nutritionals offers a proprietary peptide NOP-47 reported to improve blood vessel function.
Disclaimer: This article does not represent an exhaustive view of all the ingredients offering potential heart health benefits.