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Opinion: Tasty and nutritious - A recipe for 'food as medicine' innovations
Siân Yates

Siân Yates

4 July 2024

Opinion: Tasty and nutritious - A recipe for 'food as medicine' innovations


In the quest for better health, the connection between nutrition and wellness is undeniable. However, the challenge lies in making nutritious food appealing enough for people to incorporate it into their daily lives. Christina J Valentine, chief medical officer and EVP of Kate Farms, examines the innovative strategies that food scientists and nutrition experts are employing to create delicious, nutrient-dense products.


When you visit your doctor, you don’t expect to leave with a grocery list. Yet, practitioners are always emphasising the importance of eating your fruits and vegetables. It turns out, that their nutrition advice might’ve been one of the most important components to your overall health and wellness. 

  

One way to ensure people are getting the nutrients they need is to make it taste delicious. As a doctor and dietitian in the nutrition health space, I’ve observed that prioritising flavour innovation and taste leads to better patient outcomes.


It’s simple: patients are more likely to stick with a product if it tastes good. Conversely, if a nutrition supplement tastes bad or causes discomfort, patients are less likely to continue using it, no matter the health benefits. According to a 2020 survey by the International Food Information Council Foundation, 88% of consumers cited taste as the primary reason for purchasing a product.

 

Consumers consider nutrition to be an important tool to help them live their best lives — they’re looking for easy ways to get the quality nutrition they need to participate in the activities that bring them joy. McKinsey & Company recently surveyed 8,000 individuals, and 70% of them said they want to be healthier, with 50% of them saying healthy eating is a top priority for them

 

However, despite the well-known connection between diet and health, only 50% of Americans actively try to eat healthily, according to Statista Consumer Insights. Various factors contribute to this, including the cost of food, lack of education about nutritious options, and the convenience of snacks over meals in busy lifestyles. As a result, taste often takes precedence over nutrient density.

 

But what if consumers didn’t have to choose between taste and quality nutrition? Food innovators face a significant challenge: how can we ensure people get the nutrients they desperately need while still enjoying what they eat?


Here are three guiding principles for food innovators when creating nutritional products.

  

1. Look for ingredients that deliver nutritional benefits

 

We’ve known for a long time that the food you consume can directly impact your health and there’s a growing body of evidence on the positive impact of plant-based diets.  


Clinical research shows that incorporating nutrients like fibre and phytonutrients into the diet can make a significant difference. Adequate dietary fibre intake keeps your digestive tract functioning properly, feeds your gut microbiome, slows digestion, and can help improve or mitigate diseases like diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

 

In recent years, epidemiologists have studied the impacts of a high intake of plant-based foods on people's health and immunity. The research shows that plant-based foods are rich in vitamins C and E, as well as phytonutrients – chemical compounds linked to anti-inflammatory and anticarcinogenic properties.


The good news is that plant-based foods are packed with both fibre and phytonutrients. As food innovators, one way to help people consume adequate amounts of these nutrients is to incorporate them into products that taste great.


2. Make it taste delicious

 

By creating flavourful, plant-based options, you address a significant market gap and contribute to healthier lifestyles. Providing consumers with a superior choice increases the likelihood of adoption. Achieving a successful flavour launch requires rigorous testing, often involving hundreds of combinations to identify the perfect organic, natural flavour that meets our high taste standards.


At Kate Farms, for instance, our team tested numerous strawberry combinations to deliver an organic, natural strawberry flavour that aligned with our taste expectations.


The process of crafting flavours that not only satisfy taste buds but also promote health is crucial. It involves a harmonious blend of scientific expertise and natural ingredients to develop plant-based formulas that are both delicious and beneficial for overall well-being.

 

Extensive investment in innovation and quality centres is crucial to test various flavour and consistency combinations. The philosophy is simple: when nutrition tastes good and feels good, health outcomes improve. 

 

3. Take the time to get it right

 

As a business, your focus should not be on guarding competitive secrets and consumer data, but on delivering products that resonate with consumers.


Engaging consumers in the innovation process can be incredibly valuable. Through extensive taste testing and involving sensory panels, you gain firsthand insights into consumer preferences. This active engagement ensures that products not only meet high taste standards but also fulfil the needs of health-conscious consumers. In a market where taste often dictates choices, this approach is crucial.


Collaboration among teams of food scientists and nutrition experts is essential. Choosing organic, natural ingredients such as organic agave inulin and organic pea protein not only enhances sweetness and flavour depth but also provides health benefits like supporting a healthy gut microbiome and offering quality protein sources.


Successful innovation requires time and extensive testing to achieve optimal results. By prioritising both nutrition and delicious taste with nutrient-dense ingredients, you establish a robust strategy for success. Ultimately, when the community of food innovators thrives, it benefits those who rely on these innovations the most.


#opinion #KateFarms #foodasmedicine #nutrition


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