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Trends to Watch in Bioactives for 2021

Research into bioactives continues to expand opportunities in functional foods and beverages. Check out 2021’s top trends in bioactives for food and beverage.

2021 Trends in Bioactives

Bioactives encompass a wide variety of compounds that are known to have an effect on the body—for example, by modulating metabolic processes, inhibiting enzymes or receptors, or influencing gene expression. In addition, many bioactives have antioxidant or anti-inflammatory properties, benefits with broad appeal for consumers interested in health and wellness. Here’s a look at some of the important trends in bioactives to watch in the new year.

1. Consumer Demand High for Bioactive Peptides

Strong consumer demand for protein and interest in functional health benefits are driving growth in products with bioactive peptides. Bioactive peptides have been linked to diverse benefits that range from muscle growth to skin health to enhanced immune response. Uses include sports nutrition, beauty-from-within, and healthy aging products. Bioactive peptides from whey and collagen are especially popular and can be easily included in a custom premix.

2. Phenolic Compounds Are Hot

Superfoods such as berries, green tea, and flax seeds are often touted for their high levels of phenolic compounds. Researchers continue to screen new plants, with date seeds and finger millet among recent examples.

3. Curcumin Is Trending

Curcumin (from turmeric) is one of the top trending bioactives in the food industry. Due to its anti-inflammatory properties, joint health products have been a popular application for curcumin, often in a custom premix with other joint support ingredients. Now, it’s showing up in sports nutrition products due to its potential role in alleviating exercise-related inflammation and muscle soreness. Research is also underway into improving curcumin’s bioavailability, for example, by combining it with piperine from black pepper.


4. Bioactives from By-Products on the Rise

Another trend emerging in bioactives is the extraction of value-added functional ingredients from food by-products. Researchers have been investigating by-products from the processing of fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, cereals, and seafood to identify compounds with potential health benefits and good bioavailability. Some examples of valuable seafood by-products include omega-3 oil, chitosan, and bioactive peptides. These efforts align well with consumer interests in sustainable foods and reducing food waste.

5. Guarana in the Spotlight

Guarana is moving back into the spotlight as researchers learn there’s more to guarana than just its caffeine content. The phenolics in guarana are also being studied for their role in cardiovascular and cognitive health.

6. Tea Bioactives Gaining Attention

The bioactivity of tea has gained more attention recently. While functional food and beverage manufacturers have embraced tea’s best-known bioactives—including caffeine, epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), and L-theanine—some researchers are emphasizing the importance of a comprehensive characterization of all its bioactives. This drives home the point that plants with a long history of use in traditional medicine may provide more health benefits with their full array of bioactives intact.

cup of tea on table

7. Research of Anthraquinones is Ongoing

Anthraquinones are known primarily for their use as laxatives and natural dyes. However, recent research showing that anthraquinones in certain plant foods can inhibit advanced glycation end products (AGEs) may open the door to their use in functional foods and beverages for healthy aging. AGEs are linked to the development of a host of degenerative diseases, from atherosclerosis to diabetes to Alzheimer’s disease. Expect bioactive anthraquinones to be an active area of research in the upcoming year.

Addressing Consumers’ Functional Nutrition Needs

The new year promises to be an exciting one for functional food and beverage manufacturers as research into bioactives uncovers potential new ingredients and health benefits. Staying on top of consumer trends, as well as the science behind them, will be key to delivering the benefits that matter most to consumers. 

We have an extensive portfolio of health beneficial bioactive ingredients. From our PepForm peptides to CuroWhite curcumin to Bioferrin lactoferrin, our bioactives are precisely formulated to support trending macro health benefits in the market. From muscle growth, to weight management, to heart health and more, our industry-leading bioactive ingredients will help your products, and your consumers, perform at their best. Collaborate with us to see how we can help you elevate your next product formulation. 

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