At the heart of the cardiovascular health market

27-Mar-2015

Awareness of the major risk factors — poor diet, insufficient exercise and smoking — is often fairly high, yet cardiovascular disease (CVD) remains the largest cause of death in Europe

The heart is an extraordinary organ, working tirelessly to nourish our cells. Throughout our lives, our hearts are susceptible to a number of threats, including coronary heart disease, high blood pressure (hypertension) and arterial disease. Any affliction affecting the vasculature can be referred to as cardiovascular disease.

Awareness of the major risk factors — poor diet, insufficient exercise and smoking — is often fairly high, yet cardiovascular disease (CVD) remains the largest cause of death in Europe. To help keep their hearts ticking over, consumers in the region are turning to functional foods and beverages, vitamins and dietary supplements as part of a health-focused diet and lifestyle.

As a result, the global heart health market is flourishing, with US sales alone projected to be worth $7 billion by 2014.1 Here, Marc Kollenyi, Global Marketing Manager, heart health, DSM, discusses the company’s portfolio of heart healthy ingredients and the role they play in cardiovascular health.

Nutrients key for a healthy heart

A healthy and balanced diet is a key factor in the prevention and management of cardiovascular diseases. According to experts, five portions of fruit and vegetables, an adequate amount of fibre and the consumption of at least one portion of oily fish a week all contribute to optimal health and well-being.2 To ensure that they get the right amount of nutrients, more and more consumers are choosing to supplement their diet with functional foods, beverages and dietary supplements with proven health benefits.

Five portions of fruit and vegetables, an adequate amount of fibre and the consumption of at least one portion of oily fish a week all contribute to optimal health and well-being

A growing body of evidence suggests that consumers who are deficient in vitamin D are at increased risk of heart disease. Vitamin D deficiency is also linked to other, well-known heart disease risk factors such as high blood pressure, obesity and diabetes. Although this vital nutrient is produced by the skin when exposed to direct sunlight, the lack of consistent year-round sunshine in some countries makes dietary sources and supplementation vital. Indeed, the Danish government was the first in Europe to introduce an awareness campaign promoting vitamin D supplementation and Finnish manufacturers have been fortifying milk and spreads since 2003.

The power of omega-3s

High blood pressure and an abnormal heart rhythm (arrhythmia) are independent risk factors for fatal cardiovascular episodes. Omega-3 long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LC-PUFAs) have been proven to positively affect the heart’s electrical activity, making it more difficult for dangerous uncontrolled heart rhythms to develop, thus reducing the risk of sudden cardiac death.3

Additionally, they are thought to lower blood triglyceride levels, reducing the risk of potentially fatal cardiovascular events. Consumers around the world are becoming increasingly aware of the health benefits associated with omega-3s. In terms of applications, dietary supplements remain the most popular way for consumers to get their recommended daily allowance of the essential fatty acids, with more novel formats such as shots also becoming popular. North America remains the biggest market, with yearly sales of $1.3 billion for dietary supplements alone.4 The industry is flourishing in Europe too, with experts predicting 15–20% growth year on year until 2015.4

Currently, around 80% of the world’s omega-3s is sourced from fish. Acceptance of these products, however, is often hindered by an unappealing odour and taste profile. Additionally, concerns about dwindling stocks mean that consumers and manufacturers alike are looking for a suitable alternative. Fortunately, there is a commercially available alternative.

In recent years, algae have emerged as an efficient and environmentally friendly form of DHA. In fact, fish obtain DHA from consuming algae, so by going straight to the source, consumers are getting DHA from the same natural route that fish do. DSM’s form of algal DHA, life’sDHA is highly versatile and can be incorporated into a range of functional foods, beverages and dietary supplements.5

Promoting healthy blood circulation

In addition to omega-3s, DSM also offers a number of other functional ingredients for heart health, including breakthrough technology Fruitflow for good blood circulation.6

Dietary supplements remain the most popular way for consumers to get their recommended daily allowance of the essential fatty acids

Alongside decreased cholesterol levels and normal blood pressure, healthy blood flow is one of several key factors for good heart health. Fruitflow is currently only one of a small number of ingredients addressing blood circulation and offers manufacturers an opportunity to approach the heart health market from a new and largely underexplored angle. The award-winning ingredient tackles blood platelet aggregation, which can also be described as a ‘stickiness’ or ‘spikiness’ of platelets in the blood vessel.

This change in the formation of the blood platelets increases the risk of blood clots and of cardiovascular events such as heart attack, stroke or arterial disease. Fruitflow helps to maintain a healthy cardiovascular system by smoothing blood platelets and therefore reducing platelet aggregation. A natural and safe ingredient, Fruitflow does not disrupt the normal blood clotting process, which is needed following injury. Published clinical studies have demonstrated that Fruitflow reduces platelet aggregation in up to 97% of individuals within 1.5 hours of consumption. No side-effects, allergenic reactions or incompatibility with other medication have been reported following its prolonged use in ten clinical studies.

Developed by Provexis plc and licensed exclusively to DSM Nutritional Products, Fruitflow was the first ingredient to receive an approved Article 13(5) health claim from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). It has also received regulatory approval in the US, where it has GRAS status. Suitable for functional food, beverage and dietary supplement products, the ingredient represents the next generation in heart health ingredients.

Summary

Today’s consumer is taking a more proactive and holistic approach to heart health than ever before, and functional foods, beverages and dietary supplements are seen as an effective and convenient way to maintain or improve heart health. DSM Nutritional Products is on hand to help manufacturers create effective health and nutrition solutions that meet real consumer demand.

The company’s ‘Guard Your Heart’ Health Benefit Solution comprises a range of vitamins, minerals and functional ingredients supporting optimal cardiovascular health. The portfolio is highly versatile and ingredients can be integrated into a number of food and beverage applications, as well as dietary supplements. ‘Guard Your Heart’ is only one of an ever expanding range of Health Benefit Solutions designed to address a number of health concerns, including eye health, mental performance and men’s health.

References

1. www.nutraingredients-usa.com/Consumer-Trends/US-heart-health-product-launches-have-tripled-in-five-years.

2. www.dh.gov.uk/en/Publichealth/Nutrition/DH_126443.

3. J.H. Christensen, et al., 'N-3 Fatty Acids and Cardiac Autonomic Function in Humans,' Cellular and Molecular Biology 56(1), 131–139 (2010).

4. www.nutraingredients.com/Consumer-Trends/Global-omega-3-market-set-for-ongoing-15-20-growth-Report.

5. life’sDHA is a trademark of DSM.

6. Fruitflow is a trademark of Provexis plc, used under license by DSM.

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