Heart health is literally a matter of life and death – according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 610,000 people die of heart disease in the US every year. This means that it accounts for 1 in every 4 deaths. Indeed, heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women, so potential nutritional solutions are at the forefront of companies’ thinking.
New stories underlining the important impact of the diet on cardiovascular health continue to come out. The failure of pestos to meet salt reduction targets in the UK was a recent example, as was the report that sugar puts healthy people at risk of developing heart disease.
The demand for heart-healthy foods and ingredients is on the rise, fueled by an increasing focus on heart health worldwide, particularly among aging consumers. This is according to Gordon Hardie, Managing Director, Food & Ingredients, Bunge Limited.
“According to the UN, the number of people aged 60 years or older worldwide is expected to grow by more than 50 percent by 2030,” Hardie says. “Cardiovascular disease is the No. 1 cause of death globally, and diet can be a big contributor to both the development and prevention of cardiovascular disease.”
Hardie notes that oil and grain-based foods can play an important role in a heart-healthy diet. “Oils like soybean and canola are low in saturated fat and are also good sources of omega fatty acids,” Hardie explains. “Whole-grain corn, wheat and ancient grains provide dietary fiber and other beneficial nutrients. These foods can contribute to weight management, favorable cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure and a reduced risk of heart disease and stroke.”
Heart health remains one of the top reasons that consumers first seek supplementation, notes Gunilla Traberg, Director of Nordic Accounts & EU Marketing with NattoPharma. The greatest challenge facing any supplement category is the strict regulatory environment, according to Traberg, but she believes this also points to the greatest opportunity: selecting supplier partners who offer clinically validated ingredients.
Hardie points out that with so much information out in the world about diet and nutrition, it can also be hard to separate tried-and-true scientific research from one-off studies that can grab big headlines and distort consumer perceptions.