‘Food as Medicine’ Drives New Research Facility to Produce Healthier Food in the Region

The WIL@NUS Corporate Laboratory had been opened last June 19 with the vision of producing healthier food products specifically designed for Asian consumers. The new research lab aims to explore and develop healthier and more nutritious food alternatives which include plant proteins and cholesterol-friendly oils used for cooking.

Conceptualized and established by Singapore-based international agribusiness group, Wilmar, in partnership with the National University of Singapore (NUS) as well as the National Research Foundation (NRF), the $110m research facility will be among the pioneers in the field of research focusing on dietary preferences in Asian populations to help address lifestyle-related diseases such as diabetes and obesity, which are becoming prevalent not only in Singapore but across the Asian region.

Image Credit: National University of Singapore FB Page

New Research Facility to Develop Healthier Food Alternatives to Promote Health Among Asian Populations

At present, there are over 400,000 Singaporeans living with diabetes in the country. The lab’s research aims to explore the connection and impact of food and diet on health, in relationship to Singaporeans’ genetic makeup, and help the country win the battle against diabetes, shared Mr. Heng Swee Keat, Chairman of the National Research Foundation (NRF) at the inauguration event of the lab.

This, being among one of the priorities of the research lab, Mr. Heng added that the corporate lab will explore the relationship of diet and personal health, and to provide dietary solutions and advice regarding food ingredients and certain food combinations that have been identified through research to promote health and well-being among Singaporeans.

The establishment of the new research facility could also benefit Asian populations in particular, shared Laboratory Director Associate Professor Matthew Chang. He further explained that the lack of understanding on the clinical properties of food and ingredients used by Asian populations will finally be addressed through this collaboration in order to develop healthier food with health benefits specifically targeting diabetic and elderly patients within the Asian region.

According to Wilmar Chairman and CEO Kuok Khoon Hong, “The paradigm change in food is creating a growing trend towards ‘food as the new medicine’ such as the use of “designer cooking oils” for the food preparation for the elderly people as well as those with metabolic conditions.”

The WIL@NUS Corporate Lab will also tap into the power of greener production technologies to be used for developing products designed for industries such as food and nutrition, health, and cosmetics. The corporate lab also aims to produce 11 healthier food products, and train more than 60 lab experts and researchers including PhD students in the field of food and nutrition within the next five years of its operation.