Importaco ramps up better-for-you properties of nuts with first-of-its-kind probiotic discovery

By Gill Hyslop

- Last updated on GMT

Consumers are increasingly looking out for snacks that are fortified with health-giving properties. Pic: GettyImages/AaronAmut
Consumers are increasingly looking out for snacks that are fortified with health-giving properties. Pic: GettyImages/AaronAmut

Related tags Importaco Group Research better for you Nuts Probiotic bacteria

Cutting-edge research from the European nut and dried fruit producer has identified three probiotic bacteria found in nuts that display significant beneficial effects for human health, which will enable producers to capitalise on the ever-growing consumer demand for better-for-you snacks.

Inhouse researchers identified three probiotic bacteria with antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and immunostimulating properties in the Lactobacillus ​and Pediococuss​ genus found in nuts, enabling Importaco to develop a range of nuts enriched with their own probiotic bacteria.

The reveal comes ahead of the launch at Anuga Cologne next week, where visitors will be able sample probiotic-enrich almonds and walnuts, as well as nut-based snacks like coated vegetables and balls of nuts.

The year-long project was led by Dr Teresa Cercós, director general of Quality, Environment and Innovation at Importaco and directed by Dr Amparo Devesa, Importaco’s director of Investigations, in collaboration with biotechnology company Darwin Bioprospecting Excellence, experts in sampling and analysing microbiota.

According to Dr Cercós, the discovery is the first-of-its-kind for the industry and reinforces Importaco’s commitment to a science-based model to develop “innovation lines related to the continuous improvement of people’s health. We are committed to this kind of scientific research because it is hands down the best way to find the answers to the challenges that we face as society.”

President of Importaco Toño Pons added, “The immersion in knowledge is the driving force behind our development at Importaco. Using the scientific knowledge within Importaco, we are putting value into the healthy characteristics of nuts. This progress will without a doubt mark an inflection point in our drive for innovation.”

Breakthrough research

The study began in 2020 with the examination of the microbiota of more than 50 different types of nuts, to isolate and characterise the microorganisms containing possible health benefits. The nuts containing health-boosting bacteria included peanuts, pistachios, almonds and hazelnuts.

The scientists identified probiotic bacteria with antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and immunostimulating properties that could help improve the immune system, prevent the ageing of cells, slow down the causes that stimulate neurodegeneration and will boost the health of people in all age groups.

The results were key in enabling the Valencia-based company to produce a range of nuts fortified with their own naturally occurring bacteria to ramp up their health benefits.

With the design process at an advanced stage, Importaco has already secured the industrial conditions and the recommended dosage to ensure that consumers get the optimal intake of probiotics within the product.

Importaco was founded in 1940 with a mission to improve people’s health and wellbeing while ensuring responsible production and consumption.

The company is focused on advanced nutrition through the application of scientific knowledge to develop products for consumers of all ages. A principle area of research is nutrigenetics to study the influence of nut consumption on genetic components. Importaco has carried out analysis of the impact of nut consumption on cardiometabolic risk and biological age. Other projects include the extraction of components with the nutritional potential to enrich products and the elimination of additives and allergens to ensure nuts reach the largest population possible.

Today, Importaco is the largest dried fruit company in Europe, with a volume of more than 120,000 tonnes, a workforce of more than 2,000 people, and a turnover of €661m.

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