Strategic Research Programme 2011-2016: highlights

Report highlighting environment and rural economy research outputs, and resulting impact, funded through the programme.

Diet and Health

In Scotland, eating habits are the second major cause, after smoking, of poor health. The national diet contributes to a range of serious illnesses, which include coronary heart disease, certain cancers, strokes, osteoporosis and diabetes. In order to understand what constitutes a healthy diet, we must understand the food we eat and how this affects our health and wellbeing.

Diet and Health research concentrates on how to encourage the adoption of healthy, sustainable diets as well as how to improve the health benefits of food through production and processing.

Reformulating Foods for Increased Sustainability

Increasing world population and demand for food is leading to increased costs for basic ingredients, which could potentially impact on food quality and cost to the consumer. SRP research has shown how sustainable alternatives for key ingredients such as protein could be sustainably grown in Scotland and has shown, through human intervention studies, that the nutritional quality is at least as good as the traditional ingredients they replace. This research has also shown that in some cases the overall nutritional quality can be improved as a result of the presence of additional nutritional components.For example, yogurts are being reformulated with underutilised fruits such as Salal Berries ( Gaultheria shallon). As part of the programme SRP researchers developed a range of new and reformulated food products which were showcased to farmers, manufacturers and potential consumers.

Reducing Waste, Improving Health and Creating Better Foods

The Scottish fruit and vegetable industry annually produces significant quantities of 'second grade' produce that cannot be sold to traditional outlets as it is damaged or is near the end of its useful shelf life. This currently has little value and much of this goes into waste streams. Reformulation of yogurt with beta-glucan from spent brewer's yeast and bread with broad bean hull (both are waste products of food processing) is currently being developed. SRP research has shown how value can be retained and how a useful food ingredient can be produced that has multiple benefits. Research has shown that by freeze drying a range of useful freeze-dried ingredients can be produced. These have practical uses as substitutes for fresh produce in foods where inclusion would be challenging. In addition, research has shown that these have significant economic and health impacts. In many cases they can be used as alternatives to traditional colours and synthetic antioxidants improving the overall health qualities of the product, meeting the increasing demand for regulators and consumers for 'clean label' and 'natural', and contributing to maintaining or increasing shelf life.


Email: Jenny Watson,

Phone: 0300 244 4000 – Central Enquiry Unit

The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House
Regent Road

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