A NOVEL SOURCE OF THE CAROTENOID ASTAXANTHIN AS A FUTURE INGREDIENT IN NUTRIFUNCTIONAL DAIRY
By Alfonso Prado-Cabrero, NRCI
The carotenoid astaxanthin gives the red colour to the flesh of the trout and salmon that we buy in the supermarket. Astaxanthin also appears to serve some birds to show females that they are fit enough to be selected for mating.
This carotenoid is considered one of the greatest antioxidants in nature, and it is attributed to benefits in cognition and heart function. For this reason, astaxanthin produced by microalgae is added to capsules and foods for direct human consumption.
At Vistamilk Spoke 9, the Nutrition Research Centre Ireland (NRCI, WIT) is developing yogurt with the macular carotenoids (lutein, zeaxanthin, and meso-zeaxanthin) to contribute to good eye health. At the same time, they are developing a novel land-based eco-friendly process to produce zooplankton with high levels of astaxanthin. Our vision is to produce zooplankton for aquaculture, and astaxanthin to develop new yogurt in the future. In a study that we just published, we have analysed the absolute configuration of astaxanthin in the species of zooplankton we are using. Also, in this work, we have developed tools that will allow expanding the signal honesty theory in animals.