Food scientists have developed a ginseng-fortified milk product that they said can improve mental skills and cognitive functions that typically decline as people age.
The new milk, reported by Spanish researchers in the Journal of Dairy Science, was well-received by people who tested the product, suggesting it could become a new “functional food” to help combat age-related declines in mental abilities.
"Our goal was to develop low-lactose milk that could be consumed by the elderly to improve cognitive function," said lead investigator S. Fiszman, with the Instituto de Agroquimica y Tecnologia de Alimentos (IATA). "Consumers who were interested in the health benefits of ginseng rated our product quite highly." SPECIAL: How One Deck of Cards Has Shown to Improve Memory
Studies have found American ginseng may have beneficial properties that counteract some effects of age-related neurodegenerative diseases by boosting brain and central nervous system function.
But ginseng has a bitter taste, and food processing can eliminate its healthful benefits, making it difficult to produce food products made from the root. But the Spanish scientists were able to produce a functional milk – by adding vanilla extract and sucralose – that maintained beneficial levels of American ginseng after processing, and a small group of consumers found the taste “acceptable.”
About 87 percent of the consumers said they would be likely to buy the milk after tasting the product. Researchers added that other flavorings – including chocolate and coffee – could make the milk even more palatable.
"Drinking 150 to 300 milliliters of this ginseng-enriched milk would provide the amount indicated to be effective for improving cognitive functions,” Fiszman said. “Combined with the low levels of lactose, this makes the drink an appropriate functional beverage for the elderly." SPECIAL: How One Deck of Cards Has Shown to Improve Memory