Chilean scientists Carmen Soto and Lida Fuentes are conducting innovative studies to create healthful foods using organic residues produced during wine and beer production. These residues, rich in fiber and antioxidants, could contribute to the fight against cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity, offering numerous health benefits.

Carmen Soto, from the Regional Center for Health Food Studies (Creas) at the Catholic University of Valparaiso, explained that their eight-member research team has been working for years on making the best use of agro-industry residues in order to generate better value from different raw materials.

In particular, residues obtained from the production of wine (such as grape orujo) and beer (malt waste), contain a large amount of bioactive compounds, such as antioxidants and dietary fiber, which can be used beneficially instead of being destined for landfills or used only as animal feed or manure.

The prevalence of diseases in the world population, influenced by eating habits and overconsumption of processed foods, has prompted the search for new ingredients that can promote health.

For this reason, the science-technology project aims to mimic, through these elements, the nutrient assimilation typical of fruit intake, which is the ideal model of fiber-antioxidant interaction. This initiative also aims to make full use of organic residues and reduce the environmental impact generated by them.

The low consumption of fruit in Chile was highlighted by Carmen Soto, emphasizing the need to develop truly healthy foods instead of opting for processed foods.

Finally, the project also promotes the circular economy model in the region as the scientists collaborate with small and medium-sized enterprises that supply the solid residues from the malting process of beer and the residual material from the pressing of grapes for wine. Transportation logistics are complex because the residues must be stored at a certain temperature and then dehydrated to prevent the growth of mold or other microorganisms.

This innovative project could pave the way for future research into the production of bioplastics from organic residues.

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