Cardiff Met's Dr. Ara Kanekanian has edited a book of research analysing the health benefits of milk and dairy products.
Dairy-free diets are currently popular with many celebrities, but Dr Kanekanian, Programme Director of the University's MSc Food Science & Technology course, has collaborated with many international scholars specialising in dairy research, to publish the Society of Dairy Technology-commissioned book, Milk and Dairy Products as Functional Foods, which emphasises the health benefits of dairy products.
Dr Kanekanian specialises in the importance of natural ingredients in foods, some of which show physiological properties to improve human health and are called functional or bioactive compounds, also known as nutraceuticals when isolated and used as supplements.
Because of his expertise and extensive experience with British curriculum development and formerly as a member of The Quality Assurance Agency, he was appointed consultant for the US Agency for International Development to develop a curriculum for a university in the ex-Soviet republics.
He explained: "The functional compounds are usually within the food itself and when consumed, these are released and absorbed into the blood stream, exhibiting their biochemical and physiological functions to improve health. These can also be released by natural processes such as fermentation by health promoting bacteria, the probiotics present in yogurt."
Dr Kanekanian's previous research has included in vitro laboratory experiments to determine the role of these bioactive compounds as antioxidants, cholesterol and blood pressure reduction properties. He has also collaborated with other UK and European universities to study the compounds' anticancer properties and role as protective agents against tooth decay.
Dr Kanekanian is currently collaborating with the biomedical science department within the University's School of Health Sciences to research the anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial effect of fermented dairy products and other products including the comparison between honey and date syrup and the immune boosting properties of colostrum, which is the first milk produced by mothers during the first few days after the birth of the baby.
Functional food is a lucrative market for food manufacturers and Dr Kanekanian said: "The book is aimed at dairy scientists and technologists within industry and academia; general food scientists and technologists, microbiologists and nutritionists, together with all those involved in the formulation and production of functional food products."