23 Feb 2015

Funding boost for food research

4:31 pm on 23 February 2015

Three new food research programmes between New Zealand and Japanese institutes have been given the go-ahead along with a funding boost from the Government.

The Ministry for Business, Employment and Innovation will invest $400,000 into the projects, which are looking at further health benefits of specific foods.

Plant and Food Research, along with Japan's Aichi Gakuin University, planned to investigate the health properties of blackcurrants.

The project's New Zealand leader Roger Hurst said the programme would focus on blackcurrant and how the body it for energy and exercise performance.

"We've been given some funding to look at carbohydrate metabolism in the body and our particular focus is looking at blackcurrant fruits or blackcurrant fruit derived products on carbohydrate metabolism and how the body utilises energy for cognitive performance and exercise performance."

"It's essentially driven from work that we've undertaken from Plant and Food over the last number of years. We've got good evidence that blackcurrant regulates the oxidated stress and the inflammation stresses from exercise and improves recovery, but more recent data that we've gained is much more interesting and it shows that blackcurrants might manage the energy or how energy is produced in the body, how efficient that process is.

Plant and Food Research would do human intervention studies.

"So we're going to take individuals and feed them blackcurrant products as well as consume various carbohydrates, so some human studies will be done in Japan, some in New Zealand and samples and analysis of the data from the studies will be shared," said Dr Hurst.

The other two projects will investigate New Zealand mussels, seaweed and algae, and food solutions for immune development and allergy avoidance.