Manitoba Harvest partners with Brightseed to launch bioactive fiber

By Danielle Masterson

- Last updated on GMT

© Image courtesy of Manitoba Harvest
© Image courtesy of Manitoba Harvest

Related tags Brightseed AI Hemp Fiber

Recent AI-led research identified hemp hulls as an untapped source of dietary fiber and gut-health beneficial bioactives. The finding is now opening doors for new partnerships and product developments.

Hemp food giant Manitoba Harvest has joined forces with bioactives pioneer Brightseed to launch Manitoba Harvest Bioactive Fiber, which features psyllium husk fiber and Bio Gut Fiber, an ingredient Brightseed sources from upcycled hemp hulls​.

"For years we’ve been looking for more use opportunities for our hemp hulls," said Jared Simon, president at Manitoba Harvest. "When we learned about Brightseed’s research on bioactive compounds found in hemp hulls, it was a perfect fit."

He explained that Manitoba Harvest Bioactive Fiber really delivers on the companies' shared mission to transform consumer health by making hemp and bioactives more accessible in daily diets and that although fiber supplements have existed for a long time, they saw a unique opportunity for advancement in the category.

"We focused on gut health and wellness, which is one of the reasons why Whole Foods Markets leaned in to launch this innovation," he added. "Whole Foods Markets continue to be pioneers in the food and wellness space, and we’re excited that they are partnering with us to support the launch of this bioactive focused product commercially."

Hemp not top of mind…yet

Hemp is still being discovered by so many consumers, so it doesn’t typically come to mind, Simon said. "However, consumers understand that plant-based sources of fiber are very good for gut health. They are looking at seeds and whole grains, so it’s a very natural fit. It might not be top of mind yet, but it certainly aligns with how consumers are looking to boost their fiber consumption.”

According to Simon, the intent to purchase hemp products has increased by 12% year-on-year, the largest growth compared to other popular wellness products such as protein powder or chia seeds. Over 40% of consumers ranked high-fiber foods as important.

“However, we still have a lot of opportunity to educate consumers about the nutritional benefits of hemp," he added. "In a recent survey of 13,000 Americans, 70% of consumers stated that they want to purchase hemp seeds but want more information on the nutritional benefits they provide, while 79% of Americans didn’t know that hemp hearts have more than double the protein compared to chia or flax seeds."

Nutrition profile

With hemp hearts rich in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids and an impressive protein profile, Simon noted that hemp is a superfood with a lot of nutritional versatility.

"We’re constantly discovering new things about hemp’s nutritional profile, thanks to partners like Brightseed," he said. "Hemp is still a relatively new food ingredient, as compared to other seeds and grains.

"It’s only been since 1998 that hemp was permissible for sale in the U.S., and it's only been since 2018 that food-based hemp has been grown in the U.S. We knew that hemp hulls were a great source of dietary fiber, but we didn’t know that they were one of the richest sources of NCT and NFT bioactives for a healthy gut. We’re so grateful for partners like Brightseed who are helping us to advance our knowledge and bring innovative new products to market."

NCT and NFT bioactives

The upcycled hemp hulls in Manitoba Harvest Bioactive Fiber contain N-trans-caffeoyl tyramine (NCT) and N-trans-feruloyl tyramine (NFT), which are two newly identified bioactives for gut health that impact HNF4α, a metabolic regulator. HNF4α is a biological target that is instrumental in a number of bodily functions, including gut function, the metabolic system and liver function.

"HNF4α acts as a key regulator within many organs of the body, the most important and impactful one being the gut, and Forager mapping has identified both NCT and NFT as potential activators of HNF4α,” explained Alina Slotnik, vice president of product marketing and strategy at Brightseed.

"Having a healthy gut lining and maintaining its integrity, while not typically the focus of most consumer health trends today, is an important contributor to a healthy gut. The uptake and health benefits of the foods we eat, the supplements we take and the nutrients we put in our bodies are heavily mediated by our gut barrier function. Preclinical in vitro​ evidence suggests that NCT/NFT support gut barrier strength. At Brightseed, we're continuing to explore and research these two bioactives to illuminate every health point NCT and NFT can touch."


To date, Forager, Brightseed’s proprietary AI, has mapped seven million plant compounds—which is 70 times more than what is known in published scientific literature—with more than 40,000 predicted bioactives across 23 health territories.

"With this tool, Brightseed is accelerating bioactive discovery, biological validation and ingredient formulation from years to months, rapidly revealing new connections between nature and humanity," Slotnik said. "A year ago, our AI tool had only mapped less than half of seven million, and today, at this rate of bioactive discovery, we are hopeful the goal we set four years ago—to map 10 million plant compounds by 2025—will be reached in a shorter amount of time, further adding value and importance to the trove of information that we continue to build out."

Slotnik added that NCT and NFT demonstrate Forager’s capability to find remarkable things in unusual places.

"While NCT and NFT were known compounds within the scientific community, their impact and connection to HNF4α and their potential for greater health benefits were some of the first discoveries made by Forager," she explained. "This AI tool was able to illuminate sources of NCT and NFT within the world and made the connection between NCT, NFT, HNF4α and the humble, yet powerful, hemp hull. Forager was able to profile hundreds of sources to find over 80 plant sources that contained some amount of NCT and NFT; hemp hulls were surprisingly the most abundant place for these bioactives, and subsequently HNF4α."

Manitoba Harvest Bioactive Fiber can now be found on the shelves of Whole Foods Market stores nationwide.

"By continuing to build the world's largest library of bioactives and mapping their health benefits, Brightseed and our valued partners like Manitoba Harvest will be able to create new bioactive health innovations for food and health industries and bring them to market, giving consumers full access to take control of their health," Slotnik said.

Expo West 

Brightseed will showcase its Manitoba Harvest Bioactive Fiber at the upcoming Expo West. The company will also be on hand to discuss how Forager AI is accelerating bioactive discovery, biological validation and ingredients formulation from years to months.

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