Beef that can reduce cholesterol levels – project wins funding

A research project into beef that can reduce cholesterol levels is has just won funding in the just-announced first High Value Nutrition (HVN) contestable funding round of the National Science Challenge.

The project is one of three AgResearch projects to win funding in the round. The other two relate to milk that reduces the risk of allergies in children and cow’s milk for people who are dairy intolerant.

“The HVN Science Challenge’s focus is on foods with scientifically validated health benefits and that’s exactly what these are,” says AgResearch research director, Professor Warren McNab. “We’re looking at how we can increase value for New Zealand through proven health claims to our food and beverage exports.”

All three projects are funded for three years with $1 million each from the National Science Challenge, as well as co-investment from industry partners.

‘Complex beef lipids for metabolic health’ is led by Dr Emma Bermingham. She says meat from grass-fed animals may contain bioactive complex lipids that have the potential to improve metabolic health.

“We want to provide robust scientific evidence that consuming complex lipids extracted from New Zealand grass-fed red meat will lead to reduced cholesterol levels,” she says.

“We are working with Hawke’s Bay company Firstlight Foods, which produces premium grass-fed Wagyu beef. We want to extract and understand the lipids from the fat, to both determine the health claims that can be made and also to develop a new range of products based on these.”

This project and one, again with AgResearch, looking at reducing the risk of developing allergies in children will also involve clinical nutrition capability from the University of Auckland led by Professor David Cameron-Smith, who is also HVN science director.

One other successful project between the Riddet Institute (hosted by Massey University) and Goodman Fielder is researching the advantages of blending proteins into foods aimed at older people to help maintain muscles and aid mobility.

Today’s announcement follows AgResearch’s success in the Priority Research programme, where it received $3.6 million for research into the relationship between nutrition and gut health.

The HVN Science Challenge is one of 11 National Science Challenges dedicated to breaking new round in key areas of science. The challenge has an $84 million budgeted investment over the next 10 years. Its mission is to establish New Zealand as an international leader in food-for-health and help grow exports by $1 billion by 2025.

Steven Joyce$7 million for HVN Science Challenge

Announcing $7 million of funding in the HVN Challenge round yesterday, Minister for Science and Innovation Steven Joyce says that all seven proposals which won funding in the round are all examples of science generating unique business opportunities.

“Brilliant science is helping companies see a future they would never have thought possible. These are ideas for high-value foods that have real potential to bring significant economic benefits to New Zealand.”

Joyce noted there will be big demand for high-value foods with validated health claims throughout the Asia-Pacific region in the years and decades ahead. “This work is at the cutting edge of value-added food processing. It will help take New Zealand’s food to the next level of adding real value to the quality food we produce.”

The selection process included rigorous local and international peer review, the Minister said.

Professor David Cameron-Smith, High Value Nutrition Science Challenge science director.
Professor David Cameron-Smith, High Value Nutrition Science Challenge science director.

Professor Cameron-Smith says that the level of innovation and science sophistication in the development of the projects is first-class. “What is most exciting to see is the new science and industry collaboration – working together using the latest insights and technology to create new opportunities for NZ Inc.”

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