Researchers from the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in Singapore recently discovered a healthy plant-based food preservative that is more beneficial and effective than conventional preservatives. This natural preservative is made up of flavonoids – a group of phytonutrients found in all plants. The flavonoid combination developed by the researchers have strong antioxidant and anti-microbial properties that can inhibit the growth of bacteria thus keeping the food fresh for longer.
They tested the new preservative on meat and fruit juices and it has kept the food fresh for two days in the absence of refrigeration. Lead researcher Professor William Chen noted that the new preservative can provide a low-cost solution in preserving food. In fact, the team is in talks with companies to develop a new food preservative that is healthier compared with artificial preservatives. The findings of the study were published in the journal, Food Chemistry.
Understanding More About Flavonoids
Flavonoids are naturally-occurring compounds found in plants. The main function of flavonoids is to defend the plant against pests, herbivores, and pathogens. They also protect the plan against environmental stress. You can say that flavonoids are part of the plant’s immune system. But aside from protecting plants, they are also responsible for making your favorite fruits and vegetables colorful.
In nature, flavonoids do not have strong anti-microbial activities, but the researchers were able to create a flavonoid that has a stronger antimicrobial activity. They can be further processed via prenylation wherein additional hydrophobic molecules are added to the protein to facilitate cell attachment and increase its antimicrobial molecules. They achieved the stronger flavonoids by implanting the selected flavonoid of the plants into baker’s yeast to create the new plant-based preservative. This process might sound complicated, but it is actually cheap and easy thus making the natural preservative a cost-effective alternative to artificial preservatives. Early studies also show that the natural plant-based preservative is more effective than artificial preservatives.
Growing Concern on The Use of Artificial Preservatives
There is a growing concern of using artificial preservatives in increasing the shelf-life of food. The American Academy of Pediatrics issued a warning regarding the chemicals in food preservatives particularly the meat products. Meat products such as bacon and hot dogs contain nitrates and nitrates that can interfere with the thyroid hormone thereby affecting the metabolic processes in the body. These compounds can also cause problems with the metabolism as well as linked to cognitive decline.
The new natural preservative obtained from the flavonoids from yeast is brilliant. Many experts wouldn’t have thought that a natural preservative can be made with the help of yeast, which has been used in making beer and in manufacturing vaccines against hepatitis B.
The Future of The Natural Preservative
There is a huge potential for using the new natural preservative. Since there are no pieces of evidence that indicate the dangers of using the natural preservative, it has a huge potential within the food industry. Food industries can utilize this plant-based preservative to create healthier products that are safe to consume by everyone.
Inspired by www.eurekalert.org