Food and health
Our scientists help food producers to develop food for better health. This may involve new products and improved production methods, or the use of correct packaging, storage conditions and preparation methods.
- The development of healthy foods and eating habits
- Knowledge about the factors that can influence the health-related quality of food
- Knowledge about processing methods to achieve optimal food quality.
The quality of food is controlled by many different ingredients. These influence each other during processing, storage, preparation and digestion. We investigate how the health-related ingredients are preserved throughout the complete value chain. This knowledge is necessary to be able to produce food that is healthy and full of flavour.
Our scientists participate in both Norwegian and international research projects. We are a bridge builder between authorities, centres of expertise in Norway and abroad, the food industry, the retail chain, and consumers.
Many factors influence the quality of foods
The health-related quality of a food item is the result of many factors. For fruit, for example, these include the variety, climate, harvesting and – not least – the choice of processing methods such as cutting, cooling, freezing, warming, drying, packing, storage and preparation.
We carry out research in a broad spectrum of raw materials and show how the various factors influence quality and nutritional value.
For example, we know that:
- Varieties of strawberry and storage conditions are important factors that influence the level of polyphenols in jam.
– Cultivation of broccoli in a cold climate has favourable effect on flavour, appearance and vitamin C content.
– Genetics, climate and processing methods affect the quality of starch and fibre in barley.
– Oxidative degradation of oils can be minimised by the use of suitable processing and packaging.
The significance of meals
Nofima carries out research in order to gain more knowledge about potential health effects of meals. We use human cells and digestion models to study how different foods and different processing methods affect the biological activity of components in a meal.
Our studies have indicated that there are correlations between functions of the digestive system and lifestyle diseases. They have also shown that the composition of a meal affects the digestion and intestinal flora.
For example: Fat is digested more slowly when salmon, broccoli and barley are eaten together than when salmon is eaten alone. Knowledge about how foods affect the digestive system can be used to develop new combinations of food products that increase the feeling of satiety.
A new platform of methods to increase understanding
New analysis methods known as -omics methods aim to give complete analyses of biological systems.
Our scientists have established a metabolomics platform of methods for phytochemicals. This platform gives us detailed new knowledge about how the food we eat is affected by cultivation and processing. This knowledge is important for the food industry and may give a better basis for the development of healthy products.