Food as a Starting Point for a Healthy and Happy Society

NARO Shimadzu Kyoto Laboratory for Food Innovation

Dr. Mari Yamamoto (Maeda), National Agriculture and Food Research Organization

As the healthcare market continues to expand rapidly throughout the world, I believe that foods containing “functionally-beneficial components” will become increasingly important. If such “functionally-beneficial components” can be made widely available to society from agricultural products, commercially marketed foods, or restaurant menu items, it would help bring more people closer to better health. Dr. Mari Yamamoto (Maeda) is a pioneer in the research of functionally-beneficial components in Japan at the National Agriculture and Food Research Organization (NARO), where she is engaged in national projects in an effort to characterize and realize that dream.

In August 2019, NARO and Shimadzu Corporation established the NARO Shimadzu Kyoto Laboratory for Food Innovation. At that laboratory, Shimadzu has been collaborating in Dr. Yamamoto’s projects to build a body of scientific evidence about such “functionally-beneficial components,” which has been overwhelmingly lacking thus far, and use that information to drive the development (breeding) of new varieties or promote new product development by food manufacturers, the restaurant industry, or others.

Overview of Project to Analyze Food Components with Functional Benefits

Creating a Scale for Measuring Food-based Health

As mentioned earlier, the role of the NARO Shimadzu Kyoto Laboratory is to promote health and happiness through food by accumulating information about functionally beneficial components contained in the over 400 types of agricultural products available. The current research with Shimadzu involves resident researchers Yayoi Ichiki and Hironori Juichi from NARO analyzing and acquiring data daily from various varieties of agricultural products being cultivated by NARO, while also identifying where each was grown. That data will serve to help develop new varieties and improve cultivation technologies that will eventually result in food products that reach your dinner tables.

NARO Researchers Yayoi Ichiki (left) and Hironori Juichi (right)

In addition, many food and beverage products containing functionally beneficial components have been developed recently. It is essential that food manufacturers verify that the products contain the intended amounts of each component during the R&D and manufacturing of such products, the NARO Shimadzu Kyoto Laboratory is therefore establishing analytical protocols with easy analytical techniques for these processes. Essentially, the research activities at the laboratory aim to generate scientific evidence for functionally beneficial components in foods expected to offer a variety of benefits.

The agricultural products and foods resulting from component information and analytical techniques developed at the laboratory can be expected to help realize a healthier future for everyone.

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