Finding a-whey to improve cognitive support: Hank’s partners with Nutiani for brain boosting spread

By Deniz Ataman

- Last updated on GMT

Source: Hank's
Source: Hank's

Related tags Nut butter Whey protein Fonterra Cognitive function

Nut butter brand Hank’s partnered with Fonterra’s nutrition brand Nutiani to launch Hank’s Brain Boosting Peanut Butter spread, a functional food containing added protein and supplements to support cognitive function, Rachel Marshall, technical engagement manager, advanced nutrition at Fonterra, explained to FoodNavigator-USA.

The milk chocolate flavored peanut spread features six ingredients on the label, including nuts, Fonterra’s NZMP whey protein and Nutiani’s proprietary phospholipid whey protein concentrate, which targets the body on the cellular level by incorporating the use of phospholipid protein in its base, Hank’s founder and CEO, Hank Capasso, explained to FoodNavigator-USA.

“It’s a much less complicated system of delivery when functional supplements use food as its way into the body,” Capasso added.

Building a new formulation

Hank's spread uses Nutiani's milk phospholipids, which are derived from high-quality milk and mimic the ratio of phospholipids found in the human brain, according to Marshall.

In recent years, Hank’s has introduced a line of protein-enhanced nut butters, incorporating whey protein with the aim of boosting daily protein intake and promoting overall physical well-being, Marshall explained. She noted that the addition of Nutiani's milk phospholipids whey protein concentrate to the peanut spread has had minimal effects on taste, texture, and stability.

For the spread’s sweetener, Marshall said that monk fruit extract served as “an attractive option for those looking to reduce calorie intake or manage weight,” and that a little goes a long way to achieve a “clean, sweet taste without any bitter aftertaste.”

Additionally, monk fruit served as an ideal sweetener to the formulation’s stability “under a wide range of temperatures and pH levels.”

Highlighting research around milk phospholipids and brain support

Fonterra, Nutiani’s parent company, leveraged clinical research​ on how milk phospholipids support adult stress management with Nutiani’s findings from its Athlete Incubator Project​ to underscore the ingredient’s efficacy towards cognitive support in athletes.

The Athlete Incubator Project demonstrated the effects of milk phospholipids in a range of applications, including ready-to-mix protein powder, “where athletes really noticed both the physical and mental benefits, further reinforcing our believe in the protein nut butter with milk phospholipids as a winning combination,” Marshall elaborated.

“The presence of phospholipids is fundamental for promoting mental well-being, and they are abundant in a healthy brain,” by supporting essential functions including “helping keep brain cell membranes fluid and flexible,” Marshall emphasized, adding that phospholipid levels decrease “up to 20% by the age of 80.”

Marshall also highlighted the role of science-backed ingredient research is playing on consumers’ purchasing decisions, with “62% of consumers [who] believe that scientifically proven ingredients are essential,” according to data​ from Nutiani’s Top 10 Health and Nutrition Trends for 2024 survey.

Emphasis on cognitive and mental health via apps like Headspace and Calm or the rise of nootropic beverages that promote calmness or focus led to more demand for products and services that support brain health, Marshall emphasized. She said Hank’s Brain Boosting Peanut Spread is a reflection of consumers’ growing interest in using food to support brain health.

“We see a need for products that are designed for long-term prevention and help to use nutrition to build a strong foundation for the brain to enhance mental focus and resilience on an ongoing basis,” she said.

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