Musseling-up: High-Value Greenshell Mussel Foods

Project Completed 

Research Team

Public Summary

Principal Investigator: Dr Matt Miller, Cawthron Institute

Collaborating Organisations: Massey University, Christchurch Clinical Studies Trust, University of Chester

“Musseling-up: high-value Greenshell™ mussel foods” is a research partnership between Sanford Ltd and Cawthron Institute aimed at identifying and validating the health benefits of Greenshell™ mussels, in particular looking at their potential anti-inflammatory qualities for improved joint and bone health and increased mobility.

Led by Dr Matt Miller, working closely with Dr Sabrina Tian for the industry partner Sanford, the team has measured the health-promoting characteristics of GSM over an annual cycle. This has enabled a better understanding of the potential for developing premium mussel products with more benefits to the consumer. Novel rapid analytical methods were developed for measuring the composition of GSM by near infrared technologies (NIR). This technological advance enables the industry to have a greater understanding of the health-benefit value of mussels while still on-farm. This facilitates rapid and early decision-making and selection of premium quality mussels for specific product lines, an approach that was previously not possible to perform in a timely, accurate or cost-efficient manner. The new data from this novel technique will drive selection of GSM that have higher nutritional characteristics and potential anti-inflammatory qualities for improved joint and bone health and increased mobility.

The project has shed new light of the efficacy of GSM foods and components. A team at Massey University led by Prof Marlena Kruger and Dr Fran Wolber is providing new knowledge about the individual components and fractions of GSM and their biological role in promoting immune, cartilage and bone health. Similarly, the development of an in vivo model in rats has enabled assessment of GSM effects on metabolic syndrome (obesity), inflammation, osteoarthrosis and osteoporosis. We have identified a biomarker that indicates that GSM helps reduce cartilage break down. This result is confirmed by histology results from the in vivo trial showing GSM aiding in protecting knee cartilage. Furthermore, we have identified the sub-class of lipids that are likely to have protective effects in bone health.

The project has also developed new food formats that contain GSM which can be included into foods such as health shakes and smoothies that retain the benefit but mask the smell. Different GSM food formats were tested in a clinical trial to determine the bioavailability of the beneficial lipid fractions in humans. Initial results have shown that key omega 3 components are more readily available and to a greater extent in the whole GSM natural food than mussel powders or extracted GSM oil. This result indicates that the best format for humans to consume to gain the most benefit of the GSM may be the whole mussel.

Together, these studies have laid the foundation for providing the seafood-eating public with solid fact-based information that will enable health-promoting food choices, and also enable the seafood industry to leverage the inherent biological value in GSM, one of New Zealand’s most well-established sustainable seafood aquaculture industries.

Immune Health highlights