Vitamin D, nutrient-dense foods and the health advantages of probiotics and prebiotics were among the top nutrition trends identified at the meeting, which was hosted by Dairy Council of California and attended by experts representing research, product development, marketing and education.
"Interest in the added health benefits provided by functional foods to protect against certain diseases, mitigate medical conditions and promote optimal health is on the rise," said Lori Hoolihan Ph.D., R.D., research specialist, Dairy Council of California. "The task force assesses new and emerging trends in the food and nutrition arena allowing us to not only provide insight to the dairy industry about dairy's position within the functional food movement, but also to provide consumers, health professionals and educators with the most up-to-date nutrition information."
Highlights from the meeting include:
There is a rapidly expanding pool of research on vitamin D with recently discovered benefits extending beyond bone health to include weight management, relief of arthritis and multiple sclerosis symptoms and prevention of certain types of cancer. The body can make its own vitamin D with exposure to sunlight, but fortified dairy foods such as low-fat milk and yogurt are the most prevalent dietary sources. According to the task force, many people are not getting enough vitamin D in their diets.
There is growing interest in nutrient-dense foods, which are those supplying a high amount of nutrients for the calories provided. Choosing nutrient-dense foods ensures consumers get the most nutrition from their calories. The task force sees nutrient density becoming increasingly important to health-conscious consumers, particularly after the introduction of the new Dietary Guidelines a year ago, which support choosing nutrient-dense foods such as fat-free and low-fat dairy products, whole grains, fruits and vegetables.
Research continues to show that probiotics the beneficial bacteria found in certain dairy foods improve intestinal and immune health. Prebiotics which feed the probiotics are also found to be increasingly important in improving intestinal health. According to the task force, yogurt consumption is growing at a rapid pace and is a convenient and important source of probiotics.
Functional Food Task Force members include: Bill Aimutis, Ph.D., Food Chemistry Cargill, Inc.; Robert Beausire, Glanbia Nutritionals, Inc.; Donna Berry, Dairy & Food Communications, Inc.; Roger Clemens, Ph.D., USC School of Pharmacy; Constance Francis, Ph.D., R.D., GTC Nutrition; Cary Frye, International Dairy Foods Association; Bruce German, Ph.D., University of California, Davis; Thomas Gruetzmacher, Ph.D., Land O'Lakes, Inc.; Nicholas Melachouris, Ph.D., consultant; Joseph O'Donnell, Ph.D., California Dairy Research Center; Polly Olson, Davisco; Peter Pressman, M.D., Cedars-Sinai Medical Center; Mary Ellen Sanders, Ph.D., Dairy & Food Culture Technologies; and Phillip Tong, Ph.D., Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.
Created seven years ago by the Dairy Council of California, the task force meets annually to discuss the latest research on the health benefits of functional foods. Dairy Council uses the information in its outreach to the dairy industry, consumers through its Meals Matter website (www.mealsmatter.org), and in its nutrition education materials distributed through educators and health professionals.
Dairy Council of California develops nutrition education programs that are designed to be personally relevant to each user. This customization allows consumers to make decisions considering their unique needs, resulting in healthy food choices and contributing to optimal health. Healthy Eating Made Easier.
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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