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Future foods

What would you need to do to create a snack bar that tastes great and is healthy? Join the Lifestyle Foods team, where scientists, nutritionists and food manufacturers are working together to create a product that consumers want to buy.

The Lifestyle Foods programme

The task of the Lifestyle Foods programme is to develop foods that taste great, and can be selected according to the energy needs or lifestyle of an individual.

The vision

Too often people choose to eat foods that don’t match their lifestyles and energy needs. This can result in a number of problems such as weight gain or loss, inability to concentrate, and energy levels that are too low or too high, which in turn can lead to other problems, such as diabetes and heart disease.

The Lifestyle Foods programme has a vision for the future where food choice is matched to energy needs…

Guiding food choices

One of the main reasons we eat food is for energy. Different foods give us different amounts of energy. In order to be healthy and feel good, we need to eat foods that will best suit our energy needs and lifestyle.

Get information sheet: Guiding food choices

The motto of the team involved is that there is no such thing as good food or bad food – it just depends on how much of a food you’re eating, and what you’re going to do before or after eating.

Making new foods

Vegetables have a lot of health advantages. What if they could be incorporated into baked snacks and other food products?

One of the big plusses is that some vegetable flours take longer to digest than other flours. This means that the energy is released in a more sustained way, rather than causing a ‘spike’ in our systems, which is often followed by a low.

The challenge is that vegetable ingredients don’t always look, smell, or taste great in finished snack products. They can also make you fart a lot. As part of the Lifestyle Foods programme, scientists are investigating ways to get around this.

Another problem is transferring what you can do in a laboratory, to what you can do in a food processing factory.

Get information sheet: Making new foods

Testing the foods

A key aim of Lifestyle Foods is to match foods to energy requirements. To do this, you need to know what effect a food has on the energy available after digestion. This is measured by measuring the levels of sugar released into a person’s blood as the food is processed.

Get information sheet: Testing food energy

These findings are used to assign the appropriate e Mark to new and existing foods.

The future?

It’s the year 2020 and your favourite snack is a great tasting blueberry bar. The bar comes in several ‘Lifestyle’ varieties. Each variety has the great blueberry taste, smell, and texture that you love, but has a different energy level.

When you play sport, you choose to eat the high, rapid energy blueberry bar because your body needs large amounts of energy quickly. But if you are watching TV you choose the low, sustaining energy blueberry bar because your energy needs are lower. The blueberry bar allows you to eat what you like at times when you need different energy levels.

For now: It’s a team effort

The Lifestyle Foods programme, which is working towards this goal, includes experts from Plant & Food Research, the New Zealand Nutrition Foundation and food manufacturers. The expertise of each group ensures that the latest food science and technology research is being used to making healthy, tasty food products that consumers want to buy.

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