Musseling-up: High-Value Greenshell Mussel Foods


Public Summary

Principal investigator: Dr Matt Miller, Cawthron Institute
Industry partners: Massey University, Christchurch Clinical Studies Trust, University of Chester


Musseling-up: high-value Greenshell™ mussel foods

This project is a research partnership between Sanford Ltd and Cawthron Institute aimed at identifying and validating the health benefits of Greenshell™ mussels. In particular, it looks at potential anti-inflammatory qualities in mussels for improved joint and bone health, and increased mobility.

The project was led by Dr Matt Miller who worked closely with Dr Sabrina Tian for the industry partner Sanford. This team measured the health-promoting characteristics of GSM over an annual cycle. This 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 GSM composition 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. Previously this was not possible to perform in a timely, accurate or cost-efficient manner.

The new data from this novel technique allowed for the selection of higher nutritional GSM with potential anti-inflammatory qualities for improved joint and bone health, and increased mobility.

The project shed new light on the efficacy of GSM foods and components. A team at Massey University led by Prof Marlena Kruger and Dr Fran Wolber provided 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 enabled the assessment of GSM effects on metabolic syndrome (obesity), inflammation, osteoarthrosis and osteoporosis.

We identified a biomarker indicating that GSM helps reduce cartilage break down. Histology results from the in vivo trial showing GSM helping to protect knee cartilage confirms this. Furthermore, we identified the sub-class of lipids that are likely to have protective effects on bone health.

The project also developed new food formats that contain GSM which can be included in 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 showed 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 eating the whole mussel is the best way for humans to get the most benefit from the GSM.

Together, these studies provide the seafood-eating public with solid fact-based information that will allow health-promoting food choices. The studies 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.

Research team

Dr Matt Miller

Cawthorn Institute