FOOD BITES: APRIL 2018

DNA Diet Matching Doesn’t Work

A new study finds it doesn’t matter whether people try low-fat or low-carb diets for weight loss, even when their DNA suggests otherwise. The study’s results shed doubt on claims about diets that purport to be tailored to people’s specific genetic needs or predispositions.

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FOOD BITES: MAY 2018

Food, Mood and Aging

Young and mature adults require different foods to improve their mental health, say researchers from the State University of New York at Binghampton. The researchers used an anonymous Internet survey, asking people around the world to complete the Food-Mood Questionnaire, which includes....

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FOOD BITES: JUNE 2018

Vegetables Harvested in Antarctica Without Sun, Soil or Pesticides

Scientists in Antarctica have harvested the first crop of vegetables grown without soil, daylight or pesticides as part of a project designed to help astronauts cultivate fresh food on other planets. Researchers at Germany’s Neumayer Station III say eight pounds of salad greens, 18 cucumbers and 70 radishes....

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FOOD BITES: DECEMBER 2017

Milk Proteins Make Edible  Wrapping

To create an all-around better packaging solution, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is developing environmentally friendly film made of the milk protein casein to wrap meats, cheese and other food items. “The protein-based films are powerful oxygen blockers that help prevent food spoilage,” said research leader Peggy Tomasula. “When used in packaging, they could prevent food waste during distribution along the food chain.” These films are up to 500 times better than plastics at keeping oxygen away from food, and because they are derived from milk, they are biodegradable, sustainable and edible. This is better for the environment, which is already riddled with too much plastic toxicity. Early prototypes using pure casein were strong and effective oxygen blockers but hard to handle and dissolved in water too quickly. Adding citrus pectin to the blend has made the packaging even stronger as well as more resistant to humidity and high temperatures. The casein-based packaging looks similar to plastic wrap but is less stretchy and better at blocking oxygen. In addition, the coating could be sprayed directly onto foods such as cereal flakes and protein bars. The casein coating could replace the sugar coating that helps cereals keep their crunch in milk. Developers expect the casein packaging to be on store shelves within three years.


A Little Fat Unlocks Full Potential of Raw Vegetables

Adding oil helps in the absorption of eight different micronutrients

in salad vegetables. These include four carotenoids (alpha and beta carotene, lutein and lycopene), vitamins A, E and K and a micronutrient formed in the intestines from the alpha and beta carotene. Better absorption of these micronutrients promotes many health benefits, including cancer prevention and eyesight preservation. More oil equates to more absorption. “The best way to explain it would be to say adding twice the amount of salad dressing leads to twice the nutrient absorption,” said Wendy White, an associate professor of food science and human nutrition who led this study published in the peer-reviewed American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. This isn’t to say you should drench salad greens in dressing, but it is in line with U.S. dietary recommendations of about 2 tablespoons of oil per day.


Malted Barley in Beer = Lifted Spirits

Some foods make us feel good because of the neurotransmitter dopamine. Hordenine, a substance present in malted barley and beer, activates the dopamine D2 receptor, says Prof. Monika Pischestreider at Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nuremburg. In contrast to dopamine, hordenine activates the receptor solely through G proteins, potentially leading to a more prolonged effect on the reward center of the brain. At this time, it seems hordenine is the reason for the mood-boosting effect of beer.


ANGELA S. HOOVER

Angela is a staff writer for Health & Wellness magazine.

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