Latest Research News on Functional Foods : July – 2020

Consumers’ changing attitudes towards functional foods

In our earlier research, seven dimensions reflected consumers’ reported willingness to use functional foods. The aims of this study were (1) to further develop these attitude measurements into a shorter and more feasible format (2) to explore whether these shorter attitude scales predict consumers’ reported willingness to use functional products and (3) to monitor consumers’ attitudes towards functional foods over a period of 2.5 years. Two data sets were collected in 2002 and 2004 (n = 1156 and n = 1113, respectively). In 2002, seven dimensions observed in 2001 were partly merged and three measurements were constructed: Reward from using functional foods, Necessity for functional foods and Confidence in functional foods. When these were used for measuring consumers’ attitudes in 2004, four dimensions were found: Reward from using functional foods, Necessity for functional foods, Confidence in functional foods and Safety of functional foods. Changes in the factor structure indicate that the basis of the attitudes towards functional foods is not stable. Men and women did not differ in their attitudes towards functional foods. Minor differences between age and education groups were practically non-existent. In both data sets, the best predictors for willingness to use functional foods were the perceived reward and the necessity for such foods. The dimensions, however, predict reported behaviour differently depending on the target product. During the study, the influence of the perceived necessity on the willingness to use functional foods became weaker. The functional foods in Finland may be approaching the status of conventionally healthy foods. [1]

Attitudes behind consumers’ willingness to use functional foods

So-called functional foods are a new category of products that promise consumers improvements in targeted physiological functions. The objective of this study was to quantify the attitudes behind consumers’ (n=1158) willingness to use these products. Functional food-related statements formed seven factors describing consumers’ attitudes towards functional foods. These factors were as follows: perceived reward from using functional foods, confidence in functional foods, necessity for functional foods, functional foods as medicines, absence of nutritional risks in functional foods, functional foods as part of a healthy diet and the health effects of functional foods vs. their taste. These attitude subscales differentiated between consumers (n=1158) in their reported willingness to use functional foods. The best predictor for willingness to use functional foods was the perceived reward. [2]

Free radicals, antioxidants and functional foods: Impact on human health

In recent years, there has been a great deal of attention toward the field of free radical chemistry. Free radicals reactive oxygen species and reactive nitrogen species are generated by our body by various endogenous systems, exposure to different physiochemical conditions or pathological states. A balance between free radicals and antioxidants is necessary for proper physiological function. If free radicals overwhelm the body’s ability to regulate them, a condition known as oxidative stress ensues. Free radicals thus adversely alter lipids, proteins, and DNA and trigger a number of human diseases. Hence application of external source of antioxidants can assist in coping this oxidative stress. Synthetic antioxidants such as butylated hydroxytoluene and butylated hydroxyanisole have recently been reported to be dangerous for human health. Thus, the search for effective, nontoxic natural compounds with antioxidative activity has been intensified in recent years. The present review provides a brief overview on oxidative stress mediated cellular damages and role of dietary antioxidants as functional foods in the management of human diseases. [3]

Aloe vera and Probiotics: A New Alternative to Symbiotic Functional Foods

Providing products that beyond a high nutritional value brings health benefits to consumers is a major challenge to food industry. Functional foods, including prebiotics and probiotic as components, are the protagonists to promote these advantages. Aloe vera is a medicinal plant well characterized in terms of its chemical composition and therapeutic properties. Taking into account these characteristics Aloe vera represents an excellent natural source of prebiotics, as well as a substrate for lactic acid bacteria fermentation. Thus a symbiotic drink using Aloe vera as the main ingredient and lactic acid bacteria as probiotics with significant benefits to human health might represent a promising product to develop. [4]

A Focus Group Study Exploring Consumer Understanding of Health Claims on Functional Foods and the Factors that Affect Acceptance of Them

Background: In recent years there has been a marked growth in the market of functional foods, promising consumers a wide range of benefits [1]. However research seeking to assess levels of consumer understanding has produced mixed results and is quickly outdated [2]. It is particularly important to assess understanding given recent European Union (EU) legislation governing product claims [3] and concerns that consumers can be misled by product marketing. Meanwhile research looking at consumer acceptance is not easily generalizable and limited good quality qualitative research exists. The study aims were to address these gaps by investigating levels of understanding and exploring issues affecting acceptance of functional foods among a group of consumers. [5]

Reference
[1]  Urala, N. and Lähteenmäki, L., 2007. Consumers’ changing attitudes towards functional foods. Food Quality and Preference, 18(1), pp.1-12.

[2] Urala, N. and Lähteenmäki, L., 2004. Attitudes behind consumers’ willingness to use functional foods. Food quality and preference, 15(7-8), pp.793-803.

[3] Lobo, V., Patil, A., Phatak, A. and Chandra, N., 2010. Free radicals, antioxidants and functional foods: Impact on human health. Pharmacognosy reviews, 4(8), p.118.

[4] Cuvas-Limón, R.B., Julio, M.S., Carlos, C.E.J., Mario, C.H., Mussatto, S.I. and Ruth, B.C., 2016. Aloe vera and probiotics: a new alternative to symbiotic functional foods. Annual Research & Review in Biology, pp.1-11.

[5] Pryke, E. and Standing, M., 2014. A Focus Group Study Exploring Consumer Understanding of Health Claims on Functional Foods and the Factors that Affect Acceptance of Them. European Journal of Nutrition & Food Safety, pp.195-196.

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