EU project on foods that can boost heart health gets €6m funding
The UCC group is co-ordinating the investigation into whether the consumption of bioactive compounds, including polyphenols in fruit, can reduce cardiovascular risk. Photograph: Getty Images
A European research consortium has launched a major project to investigate the prevention of heart disease and stroke through food.
The Bacchus collaboration project will receive €6 million in funding from the EU’s Seventh Framework Programme to study the beneficial effects of bioactive compounds in humans. Bioactive compounds are extranutritional constituents that typically occur in small quantities in foods.
Bacchus aims to generate robust scientific evidence supporting a beneficial effect of bioactive compounds in foods on cardiovascular health, for example, reducing high blood pressure.
The project will also support 16 European small to medium enterprises in using this scientific evidence to create food products to boost cardiovascular health.
The UCC group, led by Dr Maireád Kiely in the school of food and nutritional sciences, is co-ordinating the investigation into whether the consumption of bioactive compounds, including polyphenols in fruit and peptides produced from eggs, meat and cereals, can reduce cardiovascular risk. In total, seven trials will be conducted in Britain, Ireland, Italy and Spain.
Blood pressure benefits
Bioactive compounds found naturally in fruits and vegetables have been linked with beneficial effects on blood pressure and other markers of cardiovascular health.
New research suggests specific protein sequences (peptides) naturally present in dairy, eggs, meat and fish may also promote heart health, most notably by reducing blood pressure in adults with hypertension.
“The Bacchus project provides a significant research opportunity across the areas of food science and nutrition to thoroughly investigate the beneficial health effects associated with bioactive compounds in food,” said Dr Kiely.
She added that Bacchus was “strongly linked with the food industry for the development of novel foods designed to benefit cardiovascular health” .