Strategic advice for the food and beverage industry

H2O just got boosted: Is hydrogen water really better?

Posted on:
February 27, 2018
Ann Eshaw

The science is clear: the healthiest beverage is water. It doesn’t contain any sugars, salt, nor chemicals that can harm you as long as it’s filtered properly. Can we make it better? According to some, we can – by boosting its hydrogen content.

Some hydrogen water products on the market claim that the infused molecular hydrogen is a powerful antioxidant, clinically-proven to improve your athletic performance, reduce inflammation, boost your energy, and has therapeutic benefits including accelerating post-workout muscle recovery, relief for headaches and hangovers, and skin benefits.

You can get it for $3 per 325ml pouch, $1 per tablet to hydrogenate your glass of water, or pay $500-3,000 for a generator to do the trick for you. For that money, there must be some serious science behind it, right?

According to the Molecular Hydrogen Foundation, there are over 500 peer-reviewed articles that demonstrate the therapeutic potential in every organ of the human body.

However, from these 500 peer-reviewed articles, only 37 are human studies. These human studies span over the last 17 years and most were conducted in Asia.

Another problematic factor is that nearly every human study listed has a different objective – ranging from sports performance in elite athletes to diabetes, cancer and skin diseases – meaning that the reproducibility of most of these studies has not been tested.

In a 2016 review that overall praises the use of molecular hydrogen, the author does say: “The small cohort patients studies or case reports revealed the safety or some promising benefits of therapeutic hydrogen in a variety range of diseases and pathological status such as post-cardiac syndrome, Parkinson’s disease, acute cerebral ischemia, metabolic syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, haemodialysis and postpsoriasis.”1

The review also explains that we are not sure yet what the best way is of taking in molecular hydrogen nor are we sure of the best dose.

Hydrogen water may have therapeutic benefits, but it is too early to conclude anything about it before having more well-designed human studies that include a larger number of participants.

By: Ann Eshaw

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Australian Avocados and Chobani team up for good-fat pop-up

Posted on:
February 8, 2018
Julian Mellentin

If there is one food that has benefited from the ongoing rehabilitation of fat, it’s the avocado. So much so that industry body Australian Avocados decided to name its pop-up avocado restaurant Good Fat – clearly communicating to consumers that yes, avocados contain significant amounts of fat and yes, there is such a thing as good fat.

In a world where fat still raises a red flag in many consumers’ minds, this is a bold move. However, research indicates that Australians may be ready for such a move, as their awareness of the concept of healthy fats is relatively advanced. In a recent study by NNB, 76% of Australians said they were aware that only some fats were bad for you, while 16% said that fat was not bad for you at all, and only 7% believed all fat was bad.

Riding on a wave of increased consumer acceptance of fat, the Good Fat restaurant opened its doors on the 2nd of November for one month only. The restaurant was a partnership between Australian Avocados and yoghurt brand Chobani, and the aim was to “showcase the deliciousness and versatility of our country’s beloved fruit”. The all-day menu comprised 20 avocado-based dishes, each costing AUD$20 ($16) or less, including avocado ice cream cones, avocado fries and avocado smoothies made with Chobani yoghurt.

And the Sydney-siders loved it! They loved it so much that restaurant had to close for restocking already after its second day in business.

Whether Good Fat’s success would have endured, or whether the novelty would have worn off, we will never know. But permanent avocado restaurants in Amsterdam, New York and Glasgow suggest that consumer demand is there, and that the market for good fat is anything but saturated.

By Mikaela Lindén

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Weed burger is turning fast food into superfood

Posted on:
February 5, 2018
Ann Eshaw

Image courtesy of Dutch Weed Burger

Despite what its name might imply (it’s no doubt an effective marketing technique), the “Dutch Weed Burger” is made from Dutch-grown seaweed – and it has become a hit in the Netherlands, selling in around 200 restaurants for €11-€15.

The burger bun is enriched with chlorella (a microalgae), the patty is made of crispy soyshreds enriched with Dutch Royal Kombu seaweed, and the sauce includes Dutch sea lettuce.

“We do mask the seaweed flavour a bit as it can be overwhelming for newbies!” said Mark Kulsdom, who came up with the idea along with colleague Lisette Kreischer after they made a documentary about seaweed as a future source of protein. “Our burger does carry the flavours from the sea so to speak, vegan seafood is what we like to call it. The benefits are that it is rich in iodine, protein and trace minerals, so a street food snack with healthy ingredients!”

In 2011, Kulsdom and Kreischer interviewed chefs and restaurant owners for the documentary to broaden their knowledge and skills on the use of seaweed – and the process sparked the burger idea.

“We started off as a documentary, can you believe it? We thought [the documentary] was a good idea [as] people started to think about vegan food, but the best way turned out to be by offering them something original, tasty and cool. The first burgers were sold on music festivals and the crowd loved it. It snowballed from there,” Kulsdom told New Nutrition Business.

Promotion was mainly at festivals, theatre shows, and in schools, which created a lot of buzz. They also used social media, drawing a lot of attention from vegan fans. The Dutch Weed Burger saw a 50% growth in revenue in 2017.

The burger is on the menu in the first vegan seaweed fast-food bar in the world, which opened its doors in Amsterdam in June last year. The menu is said to be 100% plant-powered, enriched with seaweed and micro algae. Besides the burger, the menu features Seawharma, Wish ‘n Chips, freshly made Mylkshakes and sWeeds – vegan and handmade sweets like brownies and cheesecake.

By: Ann Eshaw

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