Greg Cumberford, vice president of scientific and regulatory affairs for Nature’s Crops International, sat down with NutraIngredients-USA to discuss Ahiflower, a seed oil branded by the company. The raw material comes from a proprietary cultivar of the corn gromwell plant (Buglossoides arvensis). Over 100 brands use Ahiflower either in a standalone product or as an ingredient in a multi-ingredient formula.
Ahiflower oil contains a uniquely high combination of omega-3 ALA and SDA (stearidonic acid) plus omega-6 GLA (gamma linolenic acid). Its total polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) content is about 85%, among the highest in the plant kingdom. According to Cumberford, Ahiflower has the highest level of SDA of any known plant and converts to EPA and DHA at hundreds of times the rate as does the ALA found in flaxseed oil and other plant sources.
The ocean isn’t enough
Cumberford said that while the world would of course benefit from meeting the omega-3 EPA and DHA intake recommendations, the oceans simply can't supply it.
“If you know that by taking an advanced plant-based omega like Ahiflower that your body will get all the omegas that it needs for optimal wellness and from a complete and balanced perspective–that's actually pretty important. Ahiflower contains other omega fatty acids like GLA (gamma linolenic acid), which is found in evening primrose (Oenothera biennis) or borage (Borago officinalis) as well, which is not in the marine-based or algal sources. So with ahiflower, you're getting a truly complete and balanced delivery including as much DHA that is needed in the body.”
Ahiflower is grown regeneratively, meaning that Nature’s Crops uses no-till farming practices, measures soil, microbial biodiversity, biodiversity, and other soil health parameters pollinator.
“That proves that when we grow ahiflower, we’re putting back more than we’re taking out in terms of soil health and that has knock-on benefits for climate resilience, carbon capture, those kinds of things. But by and large, the omega industry is not regenerative, it's taking things from wild sources primarily, and then converting them into these nutrients,” said Cumberford. “With Ahiflower, we hope that we're going to be part of a trend in omegas towards regenerative and truly deeply sustainable supply that can be scaled to meet the world's needs.”
Dynamic duo: Ahiflower and probiotics
One need that Ahiflower may be able to meet is in the gut health arena. Nature’s Crops has a study showing that it promotes probiotic survival. The research, highlighted in the Journal of Beneficial Microbes, found that Lonza’s DuoCap delivery system with Ahiflower oil, probiotic bioavailability increased nearly two-fold compared to probiotic strains alone in capsules or in powders. The authors concluded that, "In these experiments, Ahiflower oil did have an additional benefit… In conclusion, the developed capsule-in-capsule technology increased the amount of viable cells in the upper gastrointestinal tract, mainly due to the presence of the polyunsaturated fatty acids in the outer capsule, which particularly protected the blend of probiotics in the small intestine." The authors further observed that this two-fold difference, although modest, could make the difference in many people between an efficacious and a non-efficacious intake, given the well-studied fact of probiotic breakdown in the gut's gastric acids.
“And so, if you have something that can help achieve better balance in the gut microbiome, as well as having known factors for increasing cognitive performance through Ahiflower’s SDA, that's that's important. So we think that ahiflower really is going to be a meaningful contributor,” said Cumberford.