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Growing prosperity in Alberta's agriculture, food and forestry sectors
Projects with Quality Food for Health Funding

The Alberta Innovates Quality Food for Health program brings together the agricultural and Health communities in a unique initiative. Representing almost $12 million in total project costs, the following 13 projects will receive more than $5 million from industry and from these eight public funding partners over 2012-15: Alberta Innovates Bio Solutions (AI Bio), Alberta Innovates Health Solutions (AIHS), Alberta Livestock and Meat Agency (ALMA), Alberta Crop Industry Development Fund (ACIDF), Alberta Pulse Growers Commission (APGC), Alberta Canola Producers Commission (ACPC), Alberta Milk (AM), and Egg Farmers of Alberta (EFA).

 

 Project Description Principal Investigator Total Project
Cost
Public Partner
Funding (* lead)

Beans, peas, lentils, chickpeas and reduced cholesterol

Dr. Rhonda Bell
University of Alberta
$ 1,313,658 $ 258,944 AI Bio*
$ 225,000 APGC

Pulses (beans, peas, lentils and chickpeas) are healthy foods that contain twice the amount of protein as cereals, are very high in fibre, key vitamins and minerals like folate and iron and are low in fat. Canada is the world's largest producer and exporter of lentils and peas, and Alberta produced 34% of the pea crop and 12% of beans in 2010. Current consumption of pulses in Canada is low due to a lack of pulse-based convenient food products. An    approved health claim can drive interest in development of food products with particular ingredients as seen with oat beta-glucan. Experts agree that    existing evidence for the cholesterol-lowering effects of pulses is particularly strong for beans, but more studies are needed to show the effects of peas, lentils and chickpeas are comparable to beans.  In this study, people with high levels of blood cholesterol will consume 90 grams of either beans or peas every day for 6 weeks to determine the effects of pulse consumption on cholesterol-lowering. Results from this study will be used to substantiate a    health claim for beans and other pulse crops in the future.

 

Project Description Principal Investigator Total Project
Cost
Public Partner
Funding (* lead)
Salt substitute in processed meats and  foods, and decreased heart disease Dr. Mirko Betti
University of Alberta
$ 453,375 $ 167,325 ALMA*
$ 167,325 AI Bio

The consumption of high levels of dietary sodium is linked to many health issues. A reduction of dietary sodium significantly lowers systolic and diastolic blood pressure. A reduction of salt level in foods is recommended by public health organizations such as WHO and it is a priority for Health Canada and the Canadian food industry. The objective of the present project is the development of a new process for the production of amino acids, peptides and glycopeptides having salty or kokumi tastes. The purpose is to use these ingredients as salty replacers or enhancers of salty taste and flavor in processed meats and processed foods. The salty compounds will be produced from underutilized poultry proteins. A biotechnological approach involving available commercial enzymes and enzymes produced by food-grade lactic acid bacteria will be adopted. Advanced analytical and sensory tools will be used to determine the molecular structure and taste threshold of salty and kokumi compounds. 

 

Project Description Principal Investigator Total Project
Cost
Public Partner
Funding (* lead)
Milk protein and its beneficial effect on weight loss, diabetes and heart health Dr. Prasanth Chelikani
University of Calgary 
$ 474,093 $ 200,000 ALMA*
$ 100,000 AI Bio
$ 6,605 AM 

 Improving weight loss is crucial in our increasingly obese society. Milk protein enriched diets, whey protein in particular, have been promoted for effective weight loss. However, their long-term effects on food intake, body composition and energy expenditure, and whether there is also improved diabetic control and cardiovascular health has not been well established. We will determine:  1.  which milk protein fractions produce weight loss and improve blood glucose control and,  2.  whether milk proteins can provide benefits on cardiovascular health and protect against stroke. Enhanced knowledge of how milk proteins produce weight loss may lead to the development of novel milk protein products that may protect against diabetes, hypertension and stroke.

 

Project Description Principal Investigator Total Project
Cost
Public Partner
Funding (* lead)
Gel capsules from canola, beans or peas, and improved nutraceuticals Dr. Lingyun Chen
University of Alberta
$ 594,425 $ 149,500 ACIDF*
$ 149,500 AI Bio

 Synthetic gels are used within the pharmaceutical industry to protect the drugs and to deliver them to the absorption sight undamaged.  In the food industry there are analogous opportunities for nutraceutical products (labile micronutrients, probiotics etc.), but with unique challenges  that need to be addressed.  Health food market demands these gel products not be synthetic, but  come from naturally existing raw materials. This project aims to develop canola and pulse protein based microcapsules that can effectively protect nutraceuticals during food storage and in harsh gastric juice, then controlled release them in small intestine for improved absorption.  A novel nanoscale process to address improvement of delivery efficacy of nutraceuticals will be addressed. Canola and Pulse proteins are focused on as they are commercially significant in Canada.  Future industry collaboration will create health food products for Canadian consumers and enhance our canola and pulse industry profitability and sustainability. These applications can also be applied to the cosmetic and pharmaceutical industries.

 

Project Description Principal Investigator Total Project
Cost
Public Partner
Funding (* lead)
Choline nutrient from eggs, meat and dairy, and healthier pregnancy Dr. Jonathan M. Curtis
University of Alberta
$ 918,675 $ 135,000 ALMA*
$ 135,000 AI Bio
$ 70,000 ACPC
$ 7,000 AM
$ 5,000 EFA 

Dietary choline is an essential nutrient that has been overlooked until recently when adequate dietary intakes were estimated.  We have shown that eggs, meat and dairy are the major dietary sources of choline for Albertans but their remain many gaps in our knowledge of the choline content of foods. In this project we will develop choline nutrient composition tables for locally available foods, which includes measuring the choline content in cuts of Albertan meat and dairy products.  Choline status is of great importance during pregnancy, lactation and infant development but there is still insufficient data to properly establish a dietary requirement.  Our research will investigate the form and amount of dietary choline needed during these critical times for development.  Also, the reported suggestion that certain forms of choline can be beneficial to patients suffering from inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) will be investigated using animal models that demonstrate if providing a choline supplement improves intestinal repair and healing.  Finally, we will attempt to develop a way to produce a stable choline-rich supplement.  

 

Project Description Principal Investigator Total Project
Cost
Public Partner
Funding (* lead)
Personalized dietary therapies for treating inflammatory bowel disease Dr. Leo Dieleman
University of Calgary
$ 982,052 $ 258,944 AI Bio*
$ 225,000 APGC

Inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD), specifically Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis, are  chronic intestinal inflammations, characterized by frequent flares of abdominal cramps and chronic diarrhea.  Current treatment of these conditions requires anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressive medications that can cause unwanted side effects, and often surgery. These costly, incurable diseases often strike individuals at the prime of their lives. For reasons that are still unknown, Alberta has one of the highest rates of IBD in the world.  We have recently shown that dietary intake of certain key nutrients can lead to significant improvement in disease activity in patients with IBD.  Using this knowledge we plan to develop and assess a personalized dietary treatment plan that emphasizes Alberta-grown food sources of these key nutrients as a means to prevent flares of  IBD.  Dietary intake will be monitored and its effects on disease activity will be assessed clinically as well as through a new field of science called metabolomics.

 

Project Description Principal Investigator Total Project
Cost
Public Partner
Funding (* lead)
Vegetable products with extended shelf-life and increased nutrition Dr. Darcy Driedger
Alberta Agriculture and Research Development
$ 274,488 $ 77,450 ACIDF*
$ 77,450 AI Bio

Similar to canning and pasteurization, exposing foods to high pressure in the range of 85,000 psi increases food safety by inactivating bacteria, including E. coli, Salmonella, and Listeria species.  Unlike canning and pasteurization, the fresh appearance, flavour, texture and nutrient content of foods are often maintained because little heat is generated during the pressure treatment.  The establishment of high pressure processing (HPP) capabilities at the Food Processing Development Centre (FPDC) and similar infrastructure at the University of Alberta have opened unique opportunities to develop healthy food products.  Working with Alberta food producers, this project will focus on developing several high pressure-processed vegetable product prototypes that are nutritious and have extended shelf-life.  Data on safety and efficacy will be collected to support the regulatory approval of high pressure processing of vegetable products.  High pressure processing is currently approved in Canada for use on ready-to-eat meals, ready meats, and applesauce.

 

Project Description Principal Investigator Total Project
Cost
Public Partner
Funding (* lead)
Media and nutrition literacy and improved children's perceptions of healthy foods Dr. Charlene Elliott
University of Calgary
$ 126,100 $ 45,050 ALMA*
$ 45,050 AIHS

Children receive messages about the health qualities of a food from various sources, but little published research evaluates how children assess packaged goods for health (including their understanding of nutrition claims or the nutrition facts table). Using focus group methodology, this study examines: 1) children's perceptions of packaged foods and how they evaluate the healthfulness of packaged foods and 2) the degree to which media literacy and nutrition literacy informs children's perspectives. 

 

Project Description Principal Investigator Total Project
Cost
Public Partner
Funding (* lead)
Reduced beany flavour in pea flour, and improved taste and nutrition Dr. Jay Han
Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development
$ 611,580 $ 135,980 AI Bio*
$ 110,000 APGC
$ 110,000 ACIDF 

Despite the excellent nutritive value of pulses, their increased human consumption in Canada and worldwide has been limited by their unique flavour.  Buhler's patented Pargem process is known to reduce beany flavour and improve nutritional value in pulses.  This project will examine the nutritional quality, processing attributes, and consumer acceptance of partially germinated yellow pea flour derived from the Pargem process.  Prototype products will be formulated and introduced to industry partners for potential commercialization. This collaborative research will contribute to health and wellness initiatives by delivering the nutritional benefits of dry peas in products with acceptable flavour.

 

Project Description Principal Investigator Total Project
Cost
Public Partner
Funding (* lead)
Dietary fibre and improved gut health Dr. Perry Lidster
Advanced Food and Materials Network 
$ 1,858,333 $ 375,000 AI Bio*

This project will investigate the association between the ingestion of specific dietary fermentable materials (DFM's) such as dietary fibre and resistance starch, to improved intestinal health. Overall goal of enhancing the health of Albertans and the competitiveness of the agricultural producers and processors (i.e. towards substantiation of a health claim, and the identification of value-added products.  Research will involve human and animal inflammations models, and will integrate microbiology, nutrition, immunology, pathology, physiology, and veterinary/human medicine to examine the complex DFM-host-microbiota interaction within the intestine.  

 

Project Description Principal Investigator Total Project
Cost
Public Partner
Funding (* lead)
Beans, peas and increased weight loss and blood sugar control Dr. Raylene Reimer
University of Calgary
$ 481,400 $ 172,950 AI Bio*
$ 172,950 AIHS
$ 75,000 APGC 

A dramatic rise in obesity is driving an increase in other medical conditions including type 2 diabetes. Today we eat more processed foods and less dietary fiber than we did in the past. Dietary fiber helps control blood sugar and lower heart disease risk. Pulses (e.g.. dry beans, peas) are an excellent source of fiber. Our project will determine if consuming pulse fiber can help with weight management and blood sugar control. By adding pulse fiber to food products and testing for health benefits, we have the potential to identify a novel dietary strategy to help curb the obesity epidemic. 

 

Project Description Principal Investigator Total Project
Cost
Public Partner
Funding (* lead)
Canola oil and improved heart health Dr. Carla Taylor
Canadian Centre for Agri-food Research in Health and Medicine, Winnipeg
$ 505,000 $ 125,000 AI Bio*
$ 125,000 ACIDF

 Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the number one cause of mortality, accounting for more than one-third of all deaths in North America.  Metabolic syndrome (MetS) is an early stage of CVD characterized by  increased body weight, blood lipids, blood sugar and blood pressure as well as impaired blood vessel function.  The composition of canola oil is considered healthy, however,  there is a lack of scientifically sound clinical studies directly comparing canola oil with other fats in the diet.  This study will investigate the effect of a 12 week intervention with canola oil versus the typical fat mixture in the Western diet on blood lipids, blood vessel function and MetS parameters.  CVD risk will be assessed based on the profile of lipids and other factors in the blood as well using specialized equipment for non-invasive monitoring of blood vessel function.  This research will provide important information for consumers, health professionals and the canola industry regarding the health benefits of canola oil.  It will help support a submission for a Canadian health claim on canola oil consumption and reduced risk of heart disease.

 

Project Description Principal Investigator Total Project
Cost
Public Partner
Funding (* lead)
Micronutrient composition of meat, poultry, grains, fruits, and vegetables, and improved health Dr. David Wishart
University of Alberta
$ 2,906,000 $ 160,000 AI Bio*
$ 160,000 AIHS
$ 160,000 ALMA 
 
The Alberta Food Metabolome Project is a multi-year project aimed at characterizing the nutrient composition of Alberta-grown produce. The chemical constituents of a given food (i.e. its metabolome) is primarily responsible for its flavour, aroma, colour and health benefits.  We intend to used advanced chemical analysis techniques to identify most of the key chemicals and micronutrients found in ~70 Alberta-grown foods including meat, poultry, grains, fruits and vegetables.  It is expected that up to 1000 compounds will be identified for each kind of food item.  This information, along with known or presumptive health benefits of each compound will be made available through the Alberta Food Composition Database (AFCDB).  This project will give Alberta food producers and consumers access to the world's most complete and detailed information on food constituents, their abundance, their flavor or aroma characteristics and their health benefits. 
 
Read Dr. Wishart's powerpoint What's in Your Food? The Alberta Food Metabolome Project  presented on May 16 and 17, 2012 at AI Bio's 2012 Impact Innovationspeaker sessions.

Read story about Dr. Wishart's research.

 

Last updated: Friday, January 15, 2016