The steady growth of the Functional Foods sector (FF) can provide significant benefits to human health but also offers opportunities for the agri-food industry. However, the development of the sector needs to be supported by advanced research and effective technology transfer actions. Within the CNR-Nutrheff, many groups are currently involved in projects aimed at sustaining the development of the FF involving food industry through research and innovation actions. Actually, a growing interest arise from the food production sector since the functional attributes assigned to a food are currently used as a powerful market tools.
However, the high costs of development of a functional food and the complexity of claims and regulatory items represent obstacles for the FF development. Therefore, the specialized expertise present in our network will help to build cooperative actions between researchers, scientists operating into industry, nutritionists and regulatory authorities to improve the current knowledge and support the agri-food sector for development of FF. The rigorous scientific approach producing highly significant demonstrations of efficacy of FF, will improve communication of health benefits and may create the basis for including FF and nutraceuticals in new dietetic guidelines for a “functional”and personalized nutrition.
The main topics composing the “Nutrheff-Functional Foods” area concern:
- Technological solutions for functionalized foods (with bioactive molecules, probiotics etc.) to provide the market with innovative FF with high organoleptic and sensorial quality;
- Studies on nutraceuticals in functional foods: identification (advanced methodologies) and investigation on metabolic profiles, complex matrices and factors influencing the bioaccessibility/bioavailability and delivery of specific bioactive compounds (processing conditions, interaction with other dietary components, etc.);
- Demonstration of relationships between a food and well-being/reduction of disease;
- Studies on the interplay occurring between bioactive components and gut microbiota.
Dr. Paola Lavermicocca
Referente Area Alimenti Funzionali