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New Research on Disease Fighting Foods

MEDIA STATEMENT 11 November, 2002

New Research on Disease Fighting Foods

New research into foods that help fight degenerative diseases such as cancer, heart disease and memory loss will be revealed on 14 November at a symposium hosted by The University of Auckland. The symposium, 'Functional Foods for Health and Profit', will also show the increasing market strength of health enhancing food components and their capacity to reduce health care costs.

Professor Lynn Ferguson, Head of Nutrition at The University of Auckland, says overseas interest in functional foods, especially in the USA and Japan, generates billions of dollars. However, functional foods - foods that provide health benefits beyond basic nutrition - are still less well known than traditional nutrients such as vitamins and minerals.

"Research into the purple pigment of the blueberry, for example, shows that it can help prevent deteriorating brain function and other degenerative diseases," says Prof. Ferguson. "The humble New Zealand purple kumara is now believed to have the same beneficial properties."

"Certain fats, such as fish and flaxseed oils and modified margarine products are important because they assist rather than threaten health. The symposium will present new evidence in this area," she says

Guest speakers at the symposium include science and industry leaders in nutritional research from New Zealand and overseas. The introductory address by Dr. Gerhard N. Schrauzer from the University of California, San Diego, will compare the values of bio-inorganic and organically grown foods. David Roberts from the Australia Food and Grocery Council will throw new light on the much-publicized benefits of antioxidants.

University of Auckland scientists will also present new research on the benefits of functional foods. Jill Cornish will present her findings on the benefit of novel bone-active factors in milk. Dr Ian Reid will address the controversial issue of whether calcium is able to lower the risk of heart disease and osteoporosis. The potential effects of protein enriched functional foods to counteract muscle wasting in the elderly will be presented by Patrick Ball.


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