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Singapore Researchers Discovered Plant-Based Food Preservative

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

New Study: Mice Lost Weight and Lowered Cholesterol with Fiber Supplement

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The Holy Grail drug to effective weight loss has yet to be discovered. But recently, a new study conducted by the researchers from the Georgia State University might change the way we will deal with weight loss. The secret? The fermentable fiber inulin.

What did the Study Analyze?

To conduct the study, the researchers fed mice with a supplement containing inulin and observed the progress. After a few weeks, those that consumed the inulin supplements showed reduced metabolic syndrome even when fed with a high-fat diet. Those that were fed with the fiber had decreased weight gain, better cholesterol levels, and a limited spike in their blood sugar levels.

But aside from inulin, there are still other compounds in fiber-rich foods that make them good for the overall gut health. For instance, resistant starch called amylose is found in fiber and has the ability to protect against genetic damage that can lead to colon cancer. It can also help fight against Type 2 diabetes.

A multitude of studies have underestimated the role of dietary fibers in weight loss. But only recently did scientists find out that dietary fibers play a role in the growth of good bacteria in the gut or colon. Studies show that those who consume a high-fiber diet are able to balance their blood sugar level, lower cholesterol levels, lower the risk of heart problems, and have better digestion than those who consume high protein-rich foods.

The role of fiber in maintaining good health has always been touted by many health experts.  But it is only recently that most consumers have started to eat more fiber. In fact, market research indicated that 87% of the consumers consider it to be healthy and 60% of the respondents actively seek products containing more fiber.

Fiber is Growing as an Important Health Claim

 

Food and beverage manufacturers have quickly responded to the demands of the consumer for more products that contain high amounts of fiber. Currently, products like Fiber One ice cream and Activia yogurt contain high amounts of fibers. Other beverage companies have also followed suit and started adding soluble fiber into their beverages.

Aside from the food industry, the trend has also reached government institutions. This is the reason why the US Food and Drug Administration is thinking of releasing a new Nutrition Facts label about putting the measurements of dietary fiber on food products. Unfortunately, the institute has not yet fully defined what counts as dietary fiber.

It is interesting to take note that fiber-rich foods are not only popular among older consumers but also the millennial generation. Younger consumers particularly millennials are consuming high-fiber products because of their touted health benefits. This opened opportunities for companies whose target markets are the millennials and younger consumers to produce products that are rich in fiber.  These include Dannon, General Mills, and Tale & Lyle.

The thing is that consumption of soluble fiber has been found to be very effective in improving not only the weight loss capacity of individuals but also their overall health. Fiber is gaining traction because consumers are getting more conscious about their food choices.

Inspired by www.fooddive.com

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The Clean Label Project: Helping You Understand Your Food Beyond Its Ingredients

Food manufacturing has come a long way. From the simple backyard garden, our grandparents tended before the industrial revolution to the establishment of the first grocery stores during the pre-war times. It is no wonder that the food that we are eating now is very different from what our grandparents ate in their time. Today, food is not as authentic and filled with harmful substances like antibiotics, BPA, and arsenic.

The Clean Label Project was established to understand better all of the ingredients found in the food we are eating. Led by Doug Porter, this non-profit organization aims to test different food items for the presence of harmful substances in the hopes of providing cleaner food supply to consumers.

What Is the Clean Label Project?

clean label projectFounded two years ago, the Clean Label Project is a non-profit group that is concerned about the purity and safety of today’s food. It is led by people from all walks of life, but most of them have a background in the food industry. The group aims to answer questions related to the origin of our foods and increase the transparency of food issues such as GMO labeling, revamping the nutrition facts, and implementing the Food Safety Modernization Act.

The group has analyzed baby food since it was founded and looked at the ingredients as well as the composition of the products. They also examined the normal levels of substances found in food so that they can develop an algorithm that will help food manufacturers know the appropriate amount of elements that they can use. It is their mission to create a society where people are not worried about what’s inside their food.

How Do Toxic Substances Get into Our Food?

With the high demand of consumers for clean food, food manufacturers should improve their products by providing traceability for their customers. Another mystery that The Clean Label Project wants to solve is how the harmful substances find their way into the food that we eat.

There are many ways food can be contaminated by harmful substances. The industrialization of agriculture may contaminate crops and produce with pesticides and fertilizers. On the other hand, other ways that foods may have contaminated may come during the processing, packing, and transportation of the food.

Pinpointing where these harmful substances come from can help food manufacturers take steps in improving their processes to solve the problem down the line completely.

Transforming The Concept of Clean Labeling

clean label projectClean labeling is not just about knowing the types of ingredients used in making a particular food product. It also knows where your food comes from and how it is made with the Clean Label Project, the non-profit organization aims to transform how people look at the concept of clean labeling.

Using clean labeling does not only reflect the quality of food that manufacturers make, but it also reflects their sincerity in helping consumers attain good health through the foods that they eat.

Inspired by fooddive.com