The next big functional foods poised to join the slew of products that claim to perform feats like aid digestion, lower cholesterol and erase wrinkles are ones that can clean arteries.

Online trade publication reports that focus on healthy arteries could be poised to become the next big trend in cardiovascular health, with products claiming to reduce oxidized LDL cholesterol hitting grocery store shelves in the US next year.

LDL, also known as "bad" cholesterol, becomes even more dangerous when it comes into contact with free radicals, as it become more reactive. Oxidized LDL can lead to inflammation and harden arteries — the precursor to heart attacks and strokes.

In an interview with FoodNavigator, a representative for Stratum Nutrition said the company is currently in talks with US food, drink and supplement manufacturers about product launches that would contain its novel new fiber Artinia, which claims to control the oxidization of LDL cholesterol in the arteries. The odorless, light yellow powder behaves like an insoluble fiber, the company said, and can be used in drinkable yogurt, smoothies, bread, baked goods, cereals, and nutrition bars.

The emergence of artery-cleaning foods could pave the way for a new category altogether in the functional foods market, which is already crowded with probiotic yogurts that claim to aid digestion, cereals that lower cholesterol and bottled water fortified with collagen, amino acids and vitamin A to supposedly combat wrinkles.

Stratum Nutrition is currently carrying out a clinical trial into the cardiovascular benefits of Artinia on people with high cholesterol, and says the study is being prepared for submission to a peer-reviewed journal in the next 90 days.

Meanwhile, Fruitflow, a product made from ripe tomato extract in syrup form, also claims to promote improved blood flow for a healthy heart and cardiovascular system. It is the first ingredient of its kind to receive an approved health claim from the European Food Safety Authority. — AFP RELAXNEWS