Functional Foods for Functional People
The market for advanced foods and nutraceuticals is large and growing - as are the waistlines of Canadians. Cardiovascular disease, which has been linked to consuming foods high in saturated fat, claims 75,000 lives per year in Canada.
Dr. Peter Jones is a national and international leader in lipid nutrition and functional foods whose work has already had an impact on health and the practice of medicine. As Canada Research Chair in Metabolism and Nutrition, he hopes to improve the health of Canadians by investigating the efficacy and safety of food components and identifying key elements that can create functional foods - foods that are similar in appearance to conventional foods but have demonstrated physiological benefits.
Dr. Jones' research has already led to the international marketing of edible spreads containing plant sterols that reduce heart disease risk by up to 20 percent. In addition to plant sterols, which have cholesterol lowering powers, Dr. Jones is working on several other functional food candidates such as alpha lipoic acid, known for its potent antioxidant properties, and n-3 fatty acids, known for their anti-inflammatory properties.
By researching the properties of these and other acids, Dr. Jones is tapping into a host of potential health improvements ranging from reducing the risk of degenerative diseases and easing the lives of people living with Type 2 diabetes to reducing the incidence of certain forms of cancer as well as of autoimmune diseases such as lupus and arthritis.
In the long run, as Canadians learn to include functional foods in their diets, they will become healthier and move away from a traditional medical model of health care to a more preventative one. With health-care costs increasing approximately seven percent annually, the potential savings is in the billions of dollars.