The 2nd International Conference on East-West Perspective on Functional Foods held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on November, 2007, discussed the current work on some traditional Asian foods and new technologies that offer both challenges and opportunities for functional foods. The highlight of the conference was on the current regulatory status of nutrition and health claims related to functional foods and the experiences in some countries on the substantiation of claims. Attention was also given to strategies for effective communication of functional foods to consumers. The conference concluded with recommendations to strengthen R and D efforts and harmonization of protocols and methodologies on functional foods within the region.
Consumers are reported to be increasingly concerned about their health. Nonetheless, consumers show different attitudes toward food at home and away from home. In particular, consumers tend to shy away from healthy food items when dining on special occasions. This study is the first to look into the number of healthy menu items provided to consumers during dining occasions. The impacts of two independent variables (dining occasion: normal vs. special; number of healthy items: limited vs. extended) on consumers’ dining menu selection was examined among female university students. The results of this study indicate that both dining occasion and the number of healthy items offered could influence consumers’ food selection independently. Although consumers are more likely to choose unhealthy items while dining’on special occasions, offering more healthy items would increase the probability of healthy eating. This study also offers some insights into the food categories and cooking methods favored by consumers. Further studies should explore other potential foods that would enhance the selection of healthy options by consumers.
The palm fruit (Elaies guineensis) yields palm oil, a palmitic-oleic rich semi solid fat and the fat-soluble minor components, vitamin E (tocopherols, tocotrienols), carotenoids and phytosterols. A recent innovation has led to the recovery and concentration of water-soluble antioxidants from palm oil milling waste, characterized by its high content of phenolic acids and flavonoids. These natural ingredients pose both challenges and opportunities for the food and nutraceutical industries. Palm oil's rich content of saturated and monounsaturated fatty acids has actually been turned into an asset in view of current dietary recommendations aimed at zero trans content in solid fats such as margarine, shortenings and frying fats. Using palm oil in combination with other oils and fats facilitates the development of a new generation of fat products that can be tailored to meet most current dietary recommendations. The wide range of natural palm oil fractions, differing in their physico-chemical characteristics, the most notable of which is the carotenoid-rich red palm oil further assists this. Palm vitamin E (30% tocopherols, 70% tocotrienols) has been extensively researched for its nutritional and health properties, including antioxidant activities, cholesterol lowering, anti-cancer effects and protection against atherosclerosis. These are attributed largely to its tocotrienol content. A relatively new output from the oil palm fruit is the water-soluble phenolic-flavonoid-rich antioxidant complex. This has potent antioxidant properties coupled with beneficial effects against skin, breast and other cancers. Enabled by its water solubility, this is currently being tested for use as nutraceuticals and in cosmetics with potential benefits against skin aging. A further challenge would be to package all these palm ingredients into a single functional food for better nutrition and health.
Epidemiological investigations suggest that soy consumption may be associated with a lower incidence of certain chronic diseases. Clinical studies also show that ingestion of soy proteins reduces the risk factors for cardiovascular disease. This led to the approval of the food-labeling health claim for soy proteins in the prevention of coronary heart disease by the U.S. FDA in 1999. Similar health petitions for soy proteins have also been approved thereafter in the United Kingdom, Brazil, South Africa, the Philippines, Indonesia, Korea, and Malaysia. However, the purported health benefits are quite variable in different studies. The Nutrition Committee of the American Heart Association has assessed 22 randomized trials conducted since 1999 and found that isolated soy protein with isoflavones (ISF) slightly decreased LDL cholesterol but had no effect on HDL cholesterol, triglycerides, lipoprotein(a), or blood pressure. The other effects of soy consumption were not evident. Although the contributing factors to these discrepancies are not fully understood, the source of soybeans and processing procedures of the protein or ISF are believed to be important because of their effects on the content and intactness of certain bioactive protein subunits. Some studies have documented potential safety concerns on increased consumption of soy products. Impacts of soy products on thyroid and reproductive functions as well as on certain types of carcinogenesis require further study in this context. Overall, existing data are inconsistent or inadequate in supporting most of the suggested health benefits of consuming soy protein or ISF.
Cytotoxicity, the possible selective activity upon HL60 as well as the anti-proliferation effect of local health supplement wheatgrass and mixture of fibers were investigated in vitro using various cancerous cell line and normal blood cell culture. The IC(50) of wheatgrass-treated HL60 (17.5 ± 1.1, 12.5 ± 0.3, and 16 ± 0.5 microgram/ml for 24, 48 and 72 h, respectively) and fibers-treated HL60 (86.0 ± 5.5, 35.0 ± 2.5, and 52.5 ± 4.5 microgram/ml for 24, 48 and 72 h, respectively) showed that both extracts possessed optimum effect after 48 hours of treatment. No significant cytotoxic effect was observed on other type of cells. For trypan blue dye exclusion method, wheatgrass reduced the number of viable cells by 13.5% (±1.5), 47.1% (±3.6), and 64.9% (±2.7) after 24, 48 and 72 h exposure, respectively. Mixture of fibers reduced the number of viable cells by 36.4% (±2.3), 57.1% (±3.1), and 89.0% (±3.4) after 24, 48 and 72 h exposure, respectively, indicated that necrosis is also an alternative to the apoptotic mechanism of cell death. Annexin-V/propidium iodide staining revealed that both extracts induced apoptosis where early apoptosis had been detected concurrently with the reduction of percentage of cell viability. Cell cycle analysis revealed that in HL60, the percentage of apoptosis increased with time (wheatgrass: 16.0% ± 2.4, 45.3% ± 3.4 and 39.6% ± 4.1; mixture of fibers: 14.6% ± 1.8, 45.4% ± 2.3 and 45.9% ± 1.2) after exposure for 24, 48 and 72 h, respectively at the concentration of 100 microgram/ml and showed optimum effect at 48 hours. Thus, these health products can be a potential alternative supplement for leukaemia patients.
The organic foods’ market is becoming one of the rapidly growing sections in agricultural economies in the world. During the last two decades, food-borne outbreaks associated with fresh produce have rapidly increased. E. coli O57:H7, the caustic agent of acute hemorrhagic diarrhea and abdominal cramps, is mainly associated with meat and poultry product outbreaks but frequent outbreaks linked to the consumption of vegetables have been reported. The aim of this study was to investigate prevalence of E. coli O157:H7 in some organic foods. A total of 230 organic food samples including four-winged bean, tomato, white radish, red cabbage, chinese cabbage, lettuce, cucumber and chicken form retailed groceries and supermarkets in Malaysia were investigated. Low prevalence of E. coli O157:H7 was detected in organic vegetables and chickens. The estimated quantity of E. coli O157:H7 in all samples ranged from 2400 MPN/g. The overall MPN/g estimate of E. coli O157:H7 in the samples from organic groceries was higher than supermarket with the maximum of >2400 MPN/g. Most of the samples from supermarket showed a minimum of
This study was conducted to evaluate the total carotene content (TCC) and beta carotene (BC) in the selected underutilized tropical fruits. TCC of underutilized fruits estimated by spectrophotometric method was in the range of 1.4-19.8 mg/100 g edible portion. The TCC of these fruits decreased in the order: Jentik-jentik > Durian Nyekak 2 > Durian Nyekak 1 > Cerapu 2 > Cerapu 1 > Tampoi Kuning > Bacang 1 > Kuini > Jambu Mawar > Bacang 2 > Durian Daun > Bacang 3 > Tampoi Putih > Jambu Susu. BC contents estimated by HPLC method were highest in Jentik-jentik, followed by Cerapu 2, Durian Nyekak 2, Tampoi Kuning, Durian Nyekak 1, and Cerapu 1, which had a range of 68-92% of BC in TCC. These underutilized fruits have an acceptable amount of carotenoids that are potential antioxidant fruits.
Acceptance of healthful foods by consumers is not yet well understood. In this study, 3 formulations of frozen dessert bars were prepared containing both soy and wild blueberries. Soy content was controlled to provide an amount of soy protein that qualified for the health claim for soy and reduced risks for cardiovascular disease. Consumers were asked to complete the Health and Taste Attitude Scales (HTAS) and then evaluate the acceptability of the 3 frozen bar types using a 9-point hedonic scale. One week after the 1st session, the participants returned. Approximately half were given information to read regarding the health benefits of soy protein, the other participants were given no information. The samples were then presented a 2nd time and labeled with their soy protein content. Changes in hedonic scores between sessions were compared and correlated with HTAS ratings. Nutrition information generally did not affect acceptability scores.