Folate focus

Related tags Milk Bacteria

Europe's first international conference on folates, taking place in
Poland early next year, is expected to shed new light on folate
bioavailability in foods and help understand how to boost
consumption of this essential vitamin

Recent years have seen intense scrutiny of the role of folates in health, triggered by theories that folate intake can affect the risk of heart disease, certain cancers (colon, colorectal and breast) and neurological dysfunction (including cognitive decline and Alzheimer's disease), as well as birth defects and other adverse pregnancy outcomes.

Research on such outcomes has led to new emphasis on the importance of optimal folate status to reduce the risk of certain chronic diseases.

Folate nutrition and function, interactions with other B-group vitamins and homocysteine metabolism and its contribution to human health are on the agenda at the upcoming event. Although Europe has a large body of research in this area, there remains a pressing need for well-integrated, interdisciplinary studies so that food producers, molecular biologists and process technologists have clear and realistic targets for nutritional manipulation and enhancement of foods, say organisers the UK-based Institute of Food Research.

A European-funded project, dubbed FolateFuncHealth​, recently found that natural folate content in rye breads can be enhanced by screening and selecting the most appropriate yeast and lactic acid bacteria. Baker's yeast was able to compensate for folate lost during baking by its high folate content and by synthesis of natural folates.

The research has also investigated folate bioavailability from UHT and pasteurised milk and found that both of these milks would make suitable carriers for fortification. New methods to help prevent loss of folate during processing of fruits and vegetables are also being studied.

Details on the project's findings will be presented at the conference​, taking place from 11-14 February in Warsaw.

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