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Dr Miller says New Zealand marine lipids could become an important niche export
18 November 2016

Conference explores the power of lipids

Some of the world’s leading experts on helpful fats in foods gathered in Nelson in early November to hear about promising developments in marine lipid research.

National and international speakers at the Lipids, Nutraceuticals and Healthy Diets Throughout the Life Cycle Conference included experts from Japan, Germany, UK, Australia, Sweden and France, and discussed future trends in the fats, oils and nutrition areas. Other topics included nutrition during early life, healthy eating, dealing with issues around quality, nutrient supply and food security, and the importance of lipids and good nutrition for the health of older people.

Cawthron’s Matt Miller was conference chairman, and says Nelson is the ideal place to hold the conference, as the top of the South Island is a biotechnology hub with a vibrant marine natural products and nutraceutical sector. Cawthron itself is a leader in the marine bioactives research area, with several research programmes and international collaborations underway and close, long-lasting relationships with aquaculture.

Listen to Matt Miller talk about his research on Cawthron Radio

Dr Miller says the benefits of some marine lipids, like omega-3 from fish oil, are well known, but the benefits of others, such as the carotenoid fucoxanthin, a brown seaweed pigment, are only just beginning to be understood.

Fucoxanthin is being investigated for its promising fat-burning properties, and might also possess other health benefits such as correcting abnormalities in glucose metabolism.

The conference focused on health nutrition at different life stages so there will be a focus on maternal and infant development, healthy lipids for a healthy lifestyle and diets for aging population. In the past, the consumption of fat has been demonised, but more and more research shows that many fats are essential and some are showing huge potential as nutraceuticals to help prevent diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and even obesity.

Dr Miller says the potential for New Zealand marine lipids is growing and could be an important niche export market in coming years.

“Using the green-lipped mussel oil as an example, New Zealand is showing the way, in the science and engineering, to produce the world’s most valuable marine oil.”

Click here to find out more about Cawthron Institute and Sanford Limited 's joint research programme into the health benefits of Greenshell™ mussels.