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Research aims to grow healthier processed foods

Alberta Innovates Bio Solutions and its partners are investing in research projects that will stimulate healthier food processing


Edmonton, Alta. – Alberta Innovates Bio Solutions, a publicly funded board-governed corporation, and seven other partners are investing in 13 research projects to stimulate new and healthier foods and food processing in the province.

Alberta Innovates made the announcement on Monday.

The research projects include understanding how food marketing affects children to studying pulses and how they impact weight and cholesterol.

Improve food quality

The goal of each of the projects is to improve food quality, equip Alberta producers with valuable details on their products and enhance human health, says Alberta Innovates.

One of the projects announced yesterday is being led by David Wishart, a professor of biological sciences and computing science at the University of Alberta.

His team has been awarded $500,000 for the next three years to analyze the micronutrients in Alberta cereal crops, pulses, beef, vegetables, fruit, and poultry.

Food database

“We will create the Alberta Food Composition Database, including more than 70 Alberta foods. The end result will be the most comprehensive food analysis in the world,” says Wishart.

Gordon Cove, CEO of Alberta Livestock and Meat Agency, says the information from the database will provide producers with in-depth analysis of the sugars, vitamins, and fatty acids that are present in Alberta-grown foods.

Gaining competitive advantage

“This information will give us a significant competitive advantage to market our products here at home, and on the international stage,” adds Cove.

The Alberta Food Composition Database will be accessible to Alberta consumers, physicians, dieticians, food producers, manufacturers, food testing agencies, crop growers and the livestock industry on a dedicated website built by the Wishart team.

The database will provide key information on compounds that are not routinely measured but may have significant health impacts. This information will be incorporated into consumer-friendly “food factsheets” to help Albertans make better food choices to optimize their health.

Other projects

Representing almost $12 million in total project costs, the following projects will receive more than $5 million from industry and from these eight public funding partners from 2012 to 2015: Alberta Innovates Bio Solutions, Alberta Innovates – Health Solutions, Alberta Livestock and Meat Agency, Alberta Crop Industry Development Fund, Alberta Pulse Growers Commission, Alberta Canola Producers Commission, Alberta Milk, and Egg Farmers of Alberta.

The projects include:

• Beans, peas, lentils, chickpeas and reduced cholesterol
• Salt substitute in processed meats and foods, and decreased heart disease
• Milk protein and its beneficial effect on weight loss, diabetes and heart health
• Gel capsules from canola, beans or peas, and improved nutraceuticals
• Choline nutrient from eggs, meat and dairy, and healthier pregnancy
• Personalized dietary therapies for treating inflammatory bowel disease
• Vegetable products with extended shelf-life and increased nutrition
• Media and nutrition literacy and improved children’s perceptions of healthy foods
• Reduced bean-y flavour in pea flour, and improved taste and nutrition
• Dietary fibre and improved gut health
• Beans, peas and increased weight loss and blood sugar control
• Canola oil and improved heart health
• Micronutrient composition of meat, poultry, grains, fruits, and vegetables, and improved health