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Material introduction of functional foods

Hokkaido potatoes are an important crop, dominating about 80% of the national share, and are considered a substitute for the main staple. Potatoes, along with rice, wheat and corn are counted as one of the 4 major crops of the world, and were mixed with rice and wheat and used as a major staple during the pioneering days of Hokkaido when rice was scarce. Potatoes are hearty and tough against cold weather, which is why there are so many reports worldwide on how they save many lives during famines. Peptides and proteins taken from unused residue produced during the starch production process of Hokkaido potatoes is used to develop diet ingredients. Unused residue contains abundant amounts of protein and dietary fibers, which is why it is gathering attention as a possible reusable resource.
Potatoes are a perennial plant in the family of solanaceae, also called nightshade. It is originally found in the high altitude regions of the Andes Mountains in South America, and is said to have been passed on to Europe, Asia and Russia after the 16th Century. It was first incorporated into Japan at the beginning of the 17th Century, and by the end of the 18th Century cultivation had begun in Hokkaido via Russia. Potatoes are strong at low temperatures, and promise a safe harvest even in years where crops are poor due to cold damage, which is why in the final years of the Edo period, cultivation of potatoes was encouraged to fight against famine.
It was not until after the Meiji period that potato cultivation in Japan became full-fledged, and was first cultivated in Hokkaido when a pioneer used a breed imported from America. Presently, Hokkaido dominates over 80 % of the potato production. Potato harvest in Hokkaido begins in late August, continuing through early September for the early variety, and the later variety is harvested in early October. The main breed is the Irish Cobbler and the May Queen which does not lose its shape after boiling.
Nutrient components include starches, which are carbohydrates, some breeds containing up to 30%. Besides these, protein, fat, vitamin B groups, vitamin C, potassium, magnesium and dietary fibers are also found in large amounts. Because potatoes are tasty and rather bland there is great demand for their use as a staple substitute, not to mention their use in processed foods such as salads, croquettes, potato chips, starch flour and other items.


Approximately 50% of potatoes grown in Japan are used for starch. The main potato used to make starch is known as the "Benimaru", and most all starch is potato based. Formerly, when processing the potatoes to get starch all extracted components were discarded as useless. However, attention is being drawn to the fact that rich amounts of protein and dietary fiber are included in the untapped residue.
Peptides are one of the representative functional ingredients extracted from the protein. Research teams from the Obihiro University of Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine have been able to verify an extraction method which allows extraction of peptides, an ingredient which possesses the same functional qualities of soy protein, through enzyme treatment, thus succeeding in creating Potato Peptide products. Peptides refer to a combination of two or more amino acids joined together, and only combinations of 50 to 100 are called peptides, while any combination above that is called proteins. However, there is no clear rule. Although amino-acid sequence in potato peptides have been established, research on peptides with varying amino-acid sequences is continuing.
Functional research has produced reports on the positive effects of peptides on fat metabolism improvement, hepatotoxicity prevention, and the use of such peptides as functional ingredients in drinks, jelly, cold confections and supplements has been suggested.
Peptides also contain high concentrations of nitrogen which has been proven to increase the flavor in cooking. For this reason, use in processed foods such as pickles and Natto which are fermented food products, retort pouch foods, soups, sweets, and processed meats such as hams and sausages are prospective.

Protein Contained Ingredients

Although we introduced the fact in the beginning that potatoes served as a anti-famine measure when first cultivated, development of products which focus on the effects potatoes have to suppress the appetite are being considered as diet foods. Protein contained functional ingredients taken from Hokkaido potatoes have been clinically tested and proven to increase a sense of satiation to assist in cutting down on food intake. It is expected that a decline in weight and body fat will be evident when the ingredient is incorporated into the daily diet. Although diet supplements made from potatoes are being developed and produced worldwide, there is demand to differentiate Japanese products made in Hokkaido that are safe and secure from products produced around the world.
In the diet food market the idea of a category known as "satiation" , in other words, an ingredient that increases the sense of satiation and reduces caloric intake is gathering attention. Not only supplements, but other uses in general foods are being considered. Because potatoes are an important crop incorporated throughout the world, and frequent the dinner table, their demand as an ingredient is quite high.

List of cooperating industries for this coverage.

The introduced content on Hokkaido's functional food ingredients was brought to you in cooperation with the following industries and products.
Industries Major Products
COSMO FOODS Co., Ltd. Hokkaido Plant Poteaji (Potato peptides)
TOYO SHINYAKU Co., Ltd. Protein (Potato origin protein contained processed foods)