Plant & Food Research awarded HVN grant for kiwifruit health research
2 December 2015
Plant & Food Research has been awarded $1 million over three years from the Ministry of Business & Innovation’s High Value Nutrition contestable fund to work with Zespri to research whether kiwifruit can influence blood glucose levels when consumed on a regular basis.
The funding will allow Plant & Food Research to conduct a new study examining how glucose intolerance is affecting people in Asia, a key market for New Zealand horticulture exports such as kiwifruit.
“It’s an important issue” says Plant & Food Research Senior Scientist Dr John Monro.
“Over 400 million people in Asia are projected to suffer from glucose intolerance by 2030; and as this increases there is likely to be a growing demand for foods that produce a smaller effect on blood glucose concentrations, as well as those that help reduce the glycaemic impact of other carbohydrate foods.”
Fruit sugars are less glycaemic than starch-based sugars, and provide components that physically reduce the rate of sugar absorption. The new research programme aims to investigate whether New Zealand kiwifruit afford protection against glycaemia by reducing glycaemic response, by maintaining healthy energy metabolism and by retarding the systemic long-term effects of glycaemia.
The research hopes to build a platform for later business-led research on combining and optimising functional attributes through new cultivars, formulations and food processing techniques.
The research will be conducted in partnership with Zespri and is designed to further develop Zespri’s health strategy, providing scientific evidence of kiwifruit’s health benefits to underpin consumer communications around the world.
High Value Nutrition is one of eleven National Science Challenges. HVN plans to invest $84 million over the next ten years to establish New Zealand as an international leader in developing validated foods for health and to help grow NZ foods exports by $1 billion/year by 2025.
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