UCC Bacchus-foodimagev1

A European consortium of clinicians and scientists has launched a major EU-funded collaboration project focused on the prevention of heart disease and stroke through food.  BACCHUS an acronym for ‘Beneficial effects of bioactive compounds in humans’ will receive €6 million in funding from the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme.

BACCHUS aims to generate robust scientific evidence supporting a beneficial effect of bioactive compounds in foods on cardiovascular health, for example reducing high blood pressure.  BACCHUS will also support 16 European small to medium enterprises (SMEs) in using this scientific evidence to create new food products to boost cardiovascular health.  The €6 million research and development project brings together 28 beneficiaries from around Europe, including University College Cork (UCC).

The UCC group, led by Dr Mairead Kiely in the School of Food and Nutritional Sciences, is coordinating the human studies work-package in BACCHUS, which will investigate whether the consumption of bioactive compounds including polyphenols in fruit and peptides produced from eggs, meat and cereals can reduce cardiovascular risk.  In total, seven trials will be conducted in the UK, Ireland, Italy, and Spain.

Bioactive compounds found naturally in fruits and vegetables have been linked with beneficial effects on blood pressure and other markers of cardiovascular health.  In addition, new research suggests that specific protein sequences (peptides) naturally present in dairy, eggs, meat and fish may also promote heart health, most notably by reducing blood pressure in adults with hypertension.

“The BACCHUS project provides a significant research opportunity across the areas of food science and nutrition to thoroughly investigate the beneficial health effects associated with bioactive compounds in food.  BACCHUS is strongly linked with the food industry for the development of novel foods designed to benefit cardiovascular health in our population” Dr Mairead Kiely, Senior Lecturer in Human Nutrition.

Heart attack and stroke are the number one killers in Ireland, and about 10,000 adults every year die prematurely from cardiovascular disease.  Stroke alone is responsible for the deaths of 2,000 individuals each year – more than breast cancer, prostate cancer and bowel cancer combined – and is the biggest cause of acquired disability in this country.

High blood pressure or hypertension is an important risk factor for heart disease and stroke.  As dietary factors along with other lifestyle measures, such as exercise and moderate alcohol, play a significant role in the prevention and treatment of hypertension; substantial efforts are being invested in the development of foods and food components that may help to lower blood pressure.

The Cork-based study will investigate the potential blood-pressure lowering effect of an egg-derived peptide in 100 adults.  The researchers on the project are currently recruiting participants for this study.  If you are aged between 50 and 65 years, a non-smoker, with no history of cardiovascular disease or diabetes and would like further information about this study or may be interested in participating, please do not hesitate to contact the School of Food and Nutritional Sciences, UCC; telephone: (021) 4903688/ (021) 4902310 or alternatively email Alice at a.lucey@ucc.ie