QMYOU Alumni Magazine Issue 78 - Page 18

MARINE ALGAE – THE SECRET INGREDIENT TO HELP SCOTS IMPROVE THEIR DIET An Edinburgh based salad-dressing producer is working with QMU to develop pioneering products incorporating health-promoting natural elements aimed at addressing one of Scotland’s high risk medical conditions – cardiovascular disease. G USTO ARTISAN FOODS and QMU’s nutrition experts have created unique highly nutritious salad dressings and oils that are infused with a natural, non-fishy vegetarian alternative to omega-3 fatty acids. The added ingredient is recognised for its positive role in reducing heart disease risks. QMU has worked in partnership with Gusto as part of the Business Innovation Exchange (BIE)* programme that provides SMEs with access to innovation support across a variety of sectors. It encourages businesses to work closely with academia, and as a result Gusto will incorporate marine algae oil in to some of its existing range of products. The key is marine algae oil, also known as marine plant oil, which delivers some of the nutritional benefits associated with oily fish without actually having to eat it. Essentially it is an alternative source of docosahexaenic acid (DHA), which is the element in omega-3 fatty acids that helps reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. Academic experts believe that the addition of marine algae oil to the Gusto salad dressing will offer significant benefits to individuals who are vegetarian or who for any reason choose to avoid oily fish. The risk of cardiovascular disease in Scotland is amongst the highest in Europe. In years gone by, oily fish was a staple of the Scottish diet, but research has shown that intakes of oily fish in Scotland are now much lower, and overly-reliant on salmon. Current dietary recommendations to reduce cardiovascular disease highlights the importance of consuming two portions of fish per week, one of which should be oily, in order to take in a source of omega-3 fatty acids, specifically DHA. Dr McKenzie confirmed: “We’re thrilled to be working actively with Gusto to develop such innovative products that will provide great health benefits to its customers. We believe that this research work with Gusto presents enormous implications for the future development of other functional food products. It opens up other possibilities to positively influence the health of the Scottish population and beyond, and Gusto should be commended for taking this first important step.” The QMU team worked with Gusto on incorporating the marine algae oil into three of their products that are now being prepared for commercial production. They also tested initial consumer responses to the taste of the new products and the novel idea of adding marine algae oil to foods. The favourable outcomes will help to inform product promotion and marketing of the enriched salad dressings and oils. Professor Alan Gilloran, QMU’s Deputy Principal, said: “This projec