The new wheat germ concentrate from GoodMills Innovation — a collaboration between the GoodMills Group milling enterprise and ingredients manufacturer Palsgaard — can help promote cell cleaning, healthy immune systems and decreased impact of aging, Bakery and Snacks reported.
The ingredient, called SpermidinEVO, has six times the spermidine — a naturally occurring molecule associated with slowing the aging process — than conventional wheat germ, providing the recommended daily intake of the nutrient in only two grams of concentrate. SpermidinEVO also contains folic acid, vitamin E and vegetable protein that can allow manufacturers to add additional health-related claims to their packaging.
The ingredient can be used in high-fiber baked goods, cookies, pastas, bars and dairy drinks to further support the internal production of spermidine and contribute to a healthy microbiome.
This wheat germ concentrate is the most recent arrival to a market where functional foods are in high demand. For years, the market for functional foods has been growing. The global market for these ingredients is projected to increase to $117 billion by 2027 from $69 billion a year ago, according to Fior Markets. Demand has only been magnified by the pandemic, which has pushed consumers to seek foods associated with gut health and better immune systems.
Spermidine, however, is not likely to rank high on the list of nutrients consumers are actively seeking out, since science is only just beginning to uncover its benefits. A 2016 study published in the journal Nature Medicine found spermidine led to better heart function and longer lives in mice. While researchers did not extrapolate these findings to humans, they did note that there is a correlation between the quantity of spermidine in an individual’s bloodstream and their age.
Despite being a lesser-known nutrient, spermidine’s association with a healthy immune system may be a quality that entices both manufacturers and consumers to sample products that feature it. At the same time, the fact that SpermidinEVO is wheat germ and primarily intended for use in bakery products could be a drawback.
Bread products and the grains they are made from have fallen out of favor with Americans. Currently, 40% of Americans never eat whole grains, according to studies cited by the Oldways Whole Grains Council. Grain foods only comprise 15% of the total calories in the American diet, according to a study published in the journal Nutrients.
This small amount of grains consumed contributes an outsized proportion of the nutrient shortfall many Americans face, especially of dietary fiber, folate and iron. According to GoodMills, fiber is necessary for the natural production of spermidine.
Baked goods are the obvious application choice for the addition of this functional ingredient, but it may take some convincing to persuade Americans to reintroduce whole grains into their diets. While plenty of U.S. consumers continue to eat refined grain products, long-term dietary reviews strongly suggest people who eat more whole grains tend to live longer. Not only that, but whole grains have been associated with a myriad of benefits, including a 29% reduction in the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, according to a study published in the BMJ journal..
It is possible that if the trend toward functional foods continues, consumers will begin to seek out more traditional additions to their diets, including whole grains. Still, even with scientific support and an ingredient that touts immune-boosting capabilities, it may be an uphill battle for this wheat germ additive to take off.