Monday, August 30, 2010

Graph that explains optimal nutrient intake

All I can say is I wish I had seen this for my book. This explains the concept around optimal nutrient level perfectly. The RDI's were set based upon (1) or (2) level of deficiency eg death or clinical effects. This is clearly significantly lower than for the AROI, or optimal dose. I should point out that this is a theoretical graph and there could be even a larger distance between levels (1) or (2) and the optimal level. 

Reference: Christine Hotz, Nicola M. Lowe, Magdalena Araya and Kenneth H. Brown Assessment of the Trace Element Status of Individuals and Populations: The Example of Zinc and Copper Supplement: 11th International Symposium on Trace Elements in Man and Animals  J. Nutr. 133:1563S-1568S, May 2003

Metalloproteins - essential to your health

Found a new word today: Metalloproteins. No prizes for guessing what they are. Yup they are proteins that have a metal atom (ion) as an essential part of them. The one most commonly known would be hemoglobin. It is a protein that contains iron, hence it is technically a metalloprotein.

The cool thing is any metalloproteinou should be able to determine the optimal / maximum level rather simply. You either keep increasing the metal dose until the enzyme production no longer increases, or enzyme activation levels off. Either way it is great to know in theory we can maximize our own personal enzyme production. This is because of the difficulties that most trace elements pose to the nutritionist / wellness person. Not only to minerals interact with each other, the trace elements which are essential to life, in excess are dangerous to life. Selenium is the obvious one. Most people know that we need it and some people know that if you have to much you poison yourself. This is why it took so long for selenium to be acknowledged as a essential trace element.

I knew trace elements and minerals were essential to life. However I didn't know how much the body relies on them. Apparently:
Almost half of all enzymes require the presence of a metal atom to function. 
This basically means that half of all your body functions need the presence of a mineral to work! Wow this makes minerals really important.

Reference: Joshua Finkelstein Metalloproteins Nature 460, 813 (13 August 2009) doi:10.1038/460813

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Glorious beer - its good for you

I enjoy "boutique " beer. My favorites are German made pilsners  they are very crisp as an enzyme is added to make them less sweet. They are also lightly hoped and when purchased on special aren't bad price wise. What most people aren't aware is how high the antioxidant levels of beer are.

Previously I have blogged about how 150ml of red wine has same antioxidant load as 500ml of beer. Well another paper states:
From a nutritional standpoint, beer contains more protein and B vitamins than wine.
The vitamin B content would also be higher for beers such as home brew that are not pasteurized. One of my favorites, schoefferhofer actually uses secondary fermentation to make the bubbles. Thus there is yeast sediment in the bottom of the bottle and the beer would still have live and active yeast in it. 

The paper then goes onto say: 
 The antioxidant content of beer is equivalent to that of wine, but the specific antioxidants are different because the barley and hops used in the production of beer contain flavonoids different from those in the grapes used in the production of wine.
So beer drinking in moderation is quite likely to be healthy. 

Reference: Denke MA. Nutritional and health benefits of beer. Am J Med Sci. 2000 Nov;320(5):320-6.

Friday, August 27, 2010

How to make your own supplement company

This is why it is important to have high quality supplements from a reputable company. I am currently working on a document that has the bands I trust in it.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Boron - has an antioxidant effect

Boron is an essential trace element for you and me. With the "discovery" of antioxidants all sorts of compounds have been tested to determine their antioxidant activity (if any). It would appear that ingestion of boron increases the bodies antioxidants. More specifically it decreased the following: :
  • Malondialdehyde (MDA) - a marker for oxidative stress
  • DNA damage
  • The protein carbonyl content (PCO) level in blood - these are markers for oxidative damage to proteins in the body.
  • Glutathione (GSH) concentration in the liver - GSH is an antioxidant so don't know if a decreased level in the liver is a good thing or not!
  • Cu-Zn superoxide dismutase (SOD) - again this is an anti oxidant so this decrease is unlikely to be beneficial.
  • Catalase (CAT) activity in the kidney.This is a substance that turns hydrogen peroxide into water, thus it takes a free radical producing substance and neutralizing it. This decrease could be caused by lack of peroxide to neutralize.
And it increased the following: 
  • GSH concentration in blood 
  • The vitamin C level in plasma
This work was done with rats as much as boron decreased some of the bodies anti oxidant protection. However overall as markers for oxidative stresses and DNA damage decreased overall the body would appear to be in more health.

However work that was done on larvae from wax moths showed that a little amount of boron was beneficial but a high doses caused oxidative stress. Therefore we do not yet know how much boron is benefitial and if we intake more than this what the concquences are. So in conclusion:

1) We should grow our fruits and vegetables in soil that has a healthy level of boron. In most cases this will be achieved by addition of a trace element mix at regular interviews.

2) If you are unable to determine the boron levels in the soil (technically determination of bio availability boron it is one thing to have a trace element in the soil, its another to have it available for plants to use you need to make sure boron is in your multi tablet.

Ince S, Kucukkurt I, Cigerci IH, Fatih Fidan A, Eryavuz A. The effects of dietary boric acid and borax supplementation on lipid peroxidation, antioxidant activity, and DNA damage in rats.
J Trace Elem Med Biol. 2010 Jul;24(3):161-4. Epub 2010 Jan 31.
Hyrsl P, Büyükgüzel E, Büyükgüzel K. The effects of boric acid-induced oxidative stress on antioxidant enzymes and survivorship in Galleria mellonella. Arch Insect Biochem Physiol. 2007 Sep;66(1):23-31.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Wheat germ and bran are much better for you

Something that should not be a surprise to you. Wheat germ, the "alive" part of the seed and Wheat bran the outside coating has more antioxidants than the "white" part of the seed (the Endosperm).

Their total content in analysed wheat products decreased in the following order: germ > bran > whole grains not, vert, similar whole grain flours > refined flours > refined bread much greater-than low-protein flour mixture

So no surprise that you should be having brown wheat (white flour = white death). And that adding wheat germ or wheat brain into a meal would be healthy. I new about wheat germ, but didn't really give it any thought as to where it came from or how it is used. I will know put it on my shopping list as it would be a healthy addition to foods.

Reference: Sergei S. Zhokhova Anders Broberga, Lennart Kennea and Jelena Jastrebova Content of antioxidant hydroquinones substituted by β-1,6-linked oligosaccharides in wheat milled fractions, flours and breads Food Chemistry Volume 121, Issue 3, 1 August 2010, Pages 645-652
Picture credit: wikipedia 

Effect of boron on vitamin level

In the fascinating graph below it shows the effect of boron levels on thiamine (B1), niacin (B3) and vitamin C. I find it very interesting that vitamin C decreases while B1 and B3 increase. This shows how difficult it is to determine exact vitamin levels in produce. Who would think to measure boron levels and then correct the vitamin B levels in plants due to this factor. It shows the impossibility of determining the vitamin levels in the food that we eat. Does the ground which produced my veges have high or low boron levels? 
The good news for us is that I use a trace element mix that always has boron in it. So hopefully we get high vitamin B levels in our green stuff.

Reference: Karl Schutte. 1964 The biology of the trace elements.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Fluoridation - it work - but only needs very low levels

I don't support fluoridation in public water systems. This is purely on principle. Fluoride is very difficult to extract from the water system. Therefore the average person has no ability to make a personal choice and not consume fluoride. I simply don't trust some person in a white coat dictating the "health" of the multitudes. So often what is deemed a great idea in one decade, is the stuff of horror stories the next decade. So peoples choice about there health, should be their choice.

However I am not like some campaigners who believe that it doesn't provide any health benefits. It does as the graph below shows. The Waikato River where our drinking water comes from has a fluoride level that fluctuates around 1.5ppm. So you can see that our children receive a "healthy" dose. However in Hamilton where they add fluoride to the water supply the level is at 8ppm. This is four times the dose required! Given that fluoride is a very poisons substance, I would be dosing at the lowest level possible to achieve the same health effects. 

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Vege's and health - is it magic in the vege's or is it low sugar/fat/starch compo

We had a kiddy party over the weekend, Trinity turned 8. A day of a bunch of girls getting hypo on sugar and colorings. Totally enjoyable day.

Got me thinking....... high consumption of vegetables is highly correlated to healthy life. Now it is the vegetables that have lots of goodness in them as they provide nutrients that keep you healthy.

Or is that people who like vegetables don't like sugary and fatty substances. For instance my father likes veges and preferentially eats them over meats, sweets and processed foods. Thus he still looks, feels and acts younger than his age.

However I am like my mother - very happy on a diet of chocolate and deserts. Veges are a chore not a love.

Thus you could conclude that high vege intake = low sugar/fat/processed foods = health. Or is it veges = health. Cause if it is veges = health I can have my cake and eat it to - along with 6+ cups of veges a day. 

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Healthy kids teeth - have some molybdenum

Most people are aware that fluoride in water helps prevent cavities in childrens teeth. This issue to me is (a) mass dosing of all the population and (b) what level do you use. I will write a post of this once I have a graph scanned in.

This post is about molybdenum and teeth. Molybdenum is a trace element that is used in bone and teeth. My trusty trace elements book has the following data from a rat study:
  • 25ppm molybdenum18% reduction in dental caries
  • 25ppm fluorine 32% reduciton 
  • 25ppm molybdenum + 25ppm fluorine 52% reduction 
It then goes onto say:
The observation made in NZ that children eating vegetables from the molybdenum such as Napier area had fewer caries than those fed on vegetables from other area, such as Hastings, is in complete agreement with these findings.
So NZ soils and drinking water? Molybdenum is found in granites and other sedimentary rocks. Therefore in NZ it is found in large areas of the south island. However when water was tested the average level of molybdenum was found to be ND. This means Not Detectable, the lower limit of tests was 30 ppm. Therefore it is possible that the drinking water has 25ppm, but it is impossible to tell.........

I am therefore grateful that there is molybdenum in trace element mixes I use every time I plant something in the garden. 

Reference: Karl Schutte. 1964 The biology of the trace elements.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Copper levels increase nutrient levels - important for barley grass jucing

Copper is an essential trace element and no it is not found in many fertilizer preparations. Copper sulphate is a salt and is the blue color that can sometimes be found on aged copper. Thanks to wikipedia Picture of copper sulphate is below: (pic still coming, blogger having some issues)

Spreading copper into the soil dramatically increases vitamin C levels increasing them by 50%. Once a small amount of copper is added, there is not much of a further increase. Likewise for carotene, a small level produces approximately a 30% increase. When the copper level massively increases it approximately increases the carotene level by a similar amount as from zero to 5 (ie it is non-liner the increase).  

kg's of copper sulphate per acre Vitamin C Carotene
0 29.2 4.0
5 45.1 5.4
50 46.5 6.6

This analysis was undertaken on barley, a grain grown for consumption and very importantly making beer. Therefore if you are growing barley for Juicing make sure you have copper in the soil. A trace element mix is readily available from any garden center.

We currently have an 1/8th of an acre with our house on it, and another 1/8 out the back on a vacant lot, which I am turning into gardening. Given that our house, shed and office takes up about 1/5th of the space, this means I should spread approximately 0.5kg of copper sulphate on our section and 0.6kg of copper sulphate on the back section. I already add copper sulphate into the ground in the trace elements when I plant. Hopefully the seaweed fertilizer that I will use this coming summer will also contain copper of some form.

Reference: Karl Schutte. 1964 The biology of the trace elements.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The standard fertilizer N-P-K effects other metals

Further on from yesterdays post about we are still stuck in the three chemical Nitrogen - Phosphorus - Potassium fertilizing. All the minerals in the soil interact. Therefore using these three they affect other soil minerals. The following graph is a simplified cause/effect diagram. I have only drawn on the direct effects of N-P-K. As you can imagine if all interactions are displayed it becomes very difficult to follow! 

 Know you can see it is complex enough - when there are three minerals drawn in. We can conclude the following:
  • Boron will be significantly reduced in bioavailability as both nitrogen and potassium are antagonistic to it 
  • Zinc and copper bioavailability will be reduced. Zinc deficiency in cattle makes them susceptible to facial eczema (and liver disease). People know supplement cows with zinc, I wonder if the lack of zinc is due to so much fertilizer. 
  • There was a paper - which was really hard to get - and I have lost it !!! that discussed how trace elements in food had decreased over the decades. One of the minerals was copper - I wonder if this was due to the antagonism of phosphorus.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Guess the date: Abuse of fertilizer

When do you think this quote was written:
Chapter 12: The abuse of the major element fertilizers: some concequences
How is it possible, when it is generally recognized that at least thirteen elements are essential for plant growth and development, that most agricultural practices still continue to vase their fertilizer application on the assumption that three, or maybe four, elements are all that is necessary in practical agriculture? This 'four fertilizer mentality' is still so widespread, and its consequences so detrimental to good agriculture, that is must be discussed in some detail. 
Sounds pretty modern to me. Four fertilizer mentality is alive and well - normally it is three fertilizer mentality. Go on take a guess, then scroll down

Was it > 2000 no..... keep going back

> 1990 no..... keep going back

> 1980 no..... keep going back

> 1970 no..... keep going back

Date of publication 1964. A wonderful work by Karl Schutte. The biology of the trace elements. He is survived by his wife who I talked to a few years ago in South Africa when I wanted to use one of his illustrations for my book. So after 50 years since the publications very little progress has been made into making sure that trace elements are in the soil for plant, animal and human health. It took me ages to find a trace element mix here in NZ that had both iodine and selenium. Both are in very low levels in our soils.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Increased storage - both good and bad?

We live in fortunate times. We know enough about nutrition that we don't see diseases that occurred a one to two hundred years ago. Rickets - the bowing of young childrens bones caused by insufficient vitamin D no longer haunts us as parents. This was caused by not getting out in the sun in winter and the high pollution levels causing reduction in sunlight. Scurvy at the end of winter, caused by no access to fresh fruit or vegetables over winter doesn't concern us, nor does lack of vitamin B's causing a host of other issues.

One of the reasons for this is cheap storage and shipping of produce. We all have access to a fridge and cool stores keep the fruits viable for months. Hydroponics and importing keeps "fresh" vegetables on  the menu all year round. Also the application of research, fertilization, mass production of food keeps the prices low. As much as we might complain about high fruit and vege prices compared to two hundred years ago we live in an age of decadence.    

However the down side to this is that the fruits and vegetables we consume are generally lower, often extremely lower in nutrients than the "home grown" food stuff. So our food keeps us healthy enough not to get clinical deficiency but not healthy enough to prevent colds, flue, snivels in the short term and western degenerative diseases in the long term.

Therefore it is with mixed emotions I read about covering papaya with a "natural shell" thus enabling it to be preserved for longer. This substance is call chitosan. Chitosan is a type of complex carbohydrate and is the substance that shrimp, crabs etc create to use as their shells. This substance can be modified to coat various things, including fruit. It has a natural preservative action being anti fungal. It would also seal the fruit off from the air, thus reducing oxidation (ie going off) and exposure to pathogens (ie no fruit spores). Therefore the papaya can be stored for five weeks. This five weeks would give papaya produces enough time to ship the product to markets in other countries.

Thus we might see papaya more cheaply in the supermarket in the future. Hence my mixed emotions. One side of me says that it is great to be able to purchase papaya cheaply. However on the other side it has come a long way from home over a significantly length of time. Therefore it would make sense to instead befriend my neighbors and eat the fruits that are in abundance around me that are freshly picked.    

So eating local and fresh is still the best option.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Blueberries - last longer - but have less nutrition

The strong "mustard" type taste/effect that wassbi, horse radish and of course mustard is called by the chemical   Allyl isothiocyanate. This chemical can be manufactured in a lab or processed mustard seeds. Its a natural insecticide, bactericide and nematocide (anti parasites). Therefore it is sometimes used in food processing as a preservative. It has been shown to extend the life of strawberries, blackberries, raspberries and blueberries.

A study investigated the effects of using allyl isothiocyanate on the antioxidant properties of blueberries. What they found was this compound reduced the level of antioxidants when compared to stored grapes without this chemical (both were stored at 10 degree C). In fact a large number of anti oxidants were reduced including:
  • Superoxide dismutase (SOD
  • Guaiacol peroxidase (G-POD) 
  • Glutathione reductase (GR)
  • Glutathione-peroxidase (GSH-POD)
  • Acorbate (AsA)
  • Ascorbate peroxidase (AsA-POD) 
  • Dehydroascorbate reductase (DHAR)
  • Monodehydroascorbate reductase (MDAR
  • Gutathione (GSH).  
  • A range of phenolic acids 
  • A range of anthocyanins
So to put it bluntly this chemical although it is "natural" destroys the goodness in blueberries. The studies conclusion was:
The results from this study indicate that AITC does not promote antioxidant property or scavenge constitutive reactive oxygen species (ROS), but maintain blueberry fruit quality through other mechanisms.
So just because something is natural doesn't make it better. The good news is that this preservative treatment is not yet used commercially. What is really disturbing is that they could use this preservative treatment and we wouldn't now!

Reference: Shiow Y. Wang and Chi-Tsun Chen. Effect of allyl isothiocyanate on antioxidant enzyme activities, flavonoids and post-harvest fruit quality of blueberries (Vaccinium corymbosum L., cv. Duke).
Food Chemistry Volume 122, Issue 4, 15 October 2010, Pages 1153-1158

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Health food - that is unhealthy ?!

I have have a confession to make: I am a sugar/sweet tooth, and often get the sugar cravings. At this time in my life I am not doing a very good job winning against the sugar drug.

Was in the supermarket last night needing a fix. My philosophy on eating is always try and do something that improves the nutrition of the food/meal. This means that always looking to eat food that is healthier or better, it is continues improvement - not a tick in the box as achieved.

So last night I purchased some dehydrated tropical fruit instead of confectionery. However upon getting home and read the fine print I was mortified to notice the following:
  • Strawberries in the packet had flavor and color (129) added. Thus this was a source of artificial flavoring and colorings.
  • That is was a product of Thailand and it had kiwifruit in it. I don't mind in principle that the product was made in Thailand, after all it was a tropical fruit mix. However I don't think that they grow Kiwifruit in Thailand. Therefore the kiwifruit were picked in another country, then processed in Thailand before being shipped to me. Logical tells me that this process was going to destory nearly all nutrition in the kiwifruit. It also raises the question of were the other fruits also imported into Thailand for processing. 
  • Fish taste. I did not that some of the deyhdrated fruit had a slight fishy taste. Go figure
  • They used sulfa dioxide (220) as a preservative. It states on the packaging that it has more than 10mg/kg of food. I couldn't find much information online about E220 that wasn't hysteria. However I think we can safely assume that a chemical preservative isn't going to be good for you ! 
So in trying to eat healthier I have consumed artificial color, flavor and high level of preservative. The food has traveled a long distance, and hence will be "old" and lacking in nutrients. This really isn't a health food then. 

Monday, August 9, 2010

Almond "goodness" depends on cultivator (breed) and year

Almonds make up a key part of LSA (Linseed, Sesame and Almonds. They combine to make a complete protein). Nuts in general a good, as long as there not roasted and covered in salt/sugar. Also Almonds are yummy!

Unsurprisingly almonds have antioxidants and polyphenols which are thought to be beneficial to health. A paper looked at different breeds of almond trees over a number of years and investigated the antioxidant and polyphenol content. What they found was:  
polyphenol content of cultivars ranged from 4.0 to 10.7 mg/100 g almonds
So depending on what type of cultivar (breed) the tree is your almonds might have double - or half - of what you expect. Yet another example of how different breeds make such a difference in nutrition and we as consumers get no choice about which breed we purchase.

Year also plays a part. During the 06 & 07 seasons the antioxidant levels were 13% lower than the 05 season. So just over a 10% reduction...... again do you know what year your almonds were grown in. Of course we don't.

There is far more variation in the nutrition in our food than we realize.

Licorice - yet another example of modern day food processing.

I like licorice, I especially like chocolate and licorice. One day at the herbal shop I purchased some licorice on one of the women's recommendation. Got it home and tried it out. It tasted revolting, overpoweringly sweet and nothing like what you purchase at the shop.

Turns out that licorice in the shops is more like flour, sugar, aniseed and black colouring. Real licorice is a wood root and is very sweet. It tastes much nicer when you just have a very small amount, and I would reccemend the "wood chipped"  version, see photo below, to the powder.

I believe that it is the significant changes to our diet such as the removal of licorice from licorice that combine to give us major health problems.

This post was created as I was reading about a study that investigated specific chemicals in real licorice extract. This was their conclusion:
These results support, in part, the traditional use of licorice to treat and prevent diseases in which oxidants or free radicals are implicated and suggest that LI could be used as a potential non-specific immune stimulator.
So basically it is good for you. Yet all that licorice that I love in the store will not have these health benefits.! 

Reference: José Cheela, Pierre Van Antwerpenb, Lenka Tůmováa, Gabriela Onofrec, Doris Vokurkovác, Karim Zouaoui-Boudjeltiad, Michel Vanhaeverbeekd and Jean Nèveb Free radical-scavenging, antioxidant and immunostimulating effects of a licorice infusion (Glycyrrhiza glabra L.) Food Chemistry Volume 122, Issue 3, 1 October 2010, Pages 508-517 doi:10.1016/j.foodchem.2010.02.060
Licorice chips wikipeadia.

Lettuce - eat it fresh

As you would expect storage of vegetables post harvest reduces their nutrient content. Still on the lettuce theme shredding lettuce then exposing the lettuce to light results in massive losses of nutrients. For example 
Shredding of lettuce leaf followed by exposure to light produced significant losses of the flavonoid moiety in the green oak leaf (94%), red oak leaf (43%), iceberg (36%), green batavia (25%), lollo biondo (24%), and lollo rosso (6%) samples, whereas cos and green salad bowl samples did not show an overall loss
 So depending on level of lettuce you can destroy all the nutrients in some varieties. Why is this important? Well in modern food processing they often shred the lettuce well in advance of serving it. For example a burger that has shredded lettuce - it isn't shredded when you ordered it - no it was pre shredded. Who knows the time that it has been processed for. I suspect the 12 - 36 hour space.....

They also looked at storage of lettuce. They found over a week in low temperature storage (household fridges are normally at 3 -4 degrees) they found extensive reduction in antioxidants.
Storage of whole heads of both lettuce and endive in the dark at 1 °C and 98% humidity for 7 days resulted in losses of total flavonol glycosides in the range of 7−46%.
So prep your lettuce just before consumption - and try to grow your own so it has optimal nutrient levels.

Reference: M. Susan DuPont, Zofia Mondin, Gary Williamson, and Keith R. Price Effect of Variety, Processing, and Storage on the Flavonoid Glycoside Content and Composition of Lettuce and Endive J. Agric. Food Chem., 2000, 48 (9), pp 3957–3964 DOI: 10.1021/jf0002387

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Purchase naturally grown "red" lettuce if you can

There are generally two parts of fruit/vegetables that have high nutrient levels. Either the parts that are in direct sunlight, they produce good stuff due to the UV / sunlight, typically these parts are higher in antioxidants as the plant protects itself from potentially damaging UV light. The other part is the growing part. These areas can be higher in B vitamins and other nutrients as they are the "active" part of the plant that is undergoing rapid change.

Now modern growing systems often grow things in green houses which can have much reduced UV light, and hydroponic systems which may have little to no UV light. Does this modern growing system reduce good stuff in plants. The answer is depends. Depends on the type of lettuce.

A study investigated the difference between lettuce grown with UV exposure and without UV. The study looked at two related lettuces Lollo Biodo and Lollo Rosso. Biodo is the green lettuce and Rosso the red lettuce, illustrated in this post. What it found was that  the red lettuce. As expected when grown under same conditions the red lettuce has higher antioxidant levels. In fact is has one of the highest levels found in "lettuces. It has a flavoniod level of 207 micro g per gram of lettuce, where as the green Biodo has 95.7 micog/g. To put that in perspective iceberg lettuce only have 0.3 micog/g. 

Anyway when grown in the absence of UV light the red lettuce has significantly reduced "total phenolics, anthocyanin, luteolin and quercetin levels

Now most, if not all, of this lettuce type that I have seen for sale in NZ is hydroponically grown. In hydroponic systems they typically don't have UV light. Thus the lettuce we purchase in the supermarket instead of being a wonder lettuce, is significantly nutritionally reduced. Interestingly enough the green variety doesn't show any difference between UV and non UV exposed growing conditions.  

References: Matthew Ordidgea, Paulina García-Macíasb, Nicholas H. Batteya, Michael H. Gordonb, Paul Hadleya, Philip Johna, Julie A. Lovegroveb, Eleni Vysinia and Alexandra Wagstaffea Phenolic contents of lettuce, strawberry, raspberry, and blueberry crops cultivated under plastic films varying in ultraviolet transparency. Food Chemistry Volume 119, Issue 3, 1 April 2010, Pages 1224-1227
Picture credit: Wikipedia 
Picture credit: Web site.
L J Hedges & C E Lister Nutritional attributes of salad vegetables Crop & Food Research Confidential Report No. 1473 August 2005

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Strawberries - best organic and fresh

On the berry theme, back to strawberries this time. A resent study looked at organic and conventional strawberries and the effect of storage on the antioxidant levels. The conclusion was:
  • Organic strawberries had higher levels of antioxidant enzymes
  • Organic strawberries had higher levels of total antioxidant compounds (eg higher flavonoid levels than conventional systems)
  • That strawberries stored at 10 degrees C had higher levels of antioxidants than the 5 or 0 degree storage temperatures
Guess what - strawberries are stored in the fridge/cooler at approximately 5 degrees cause that makes them last longer! (about a week or so) So in conclusion, purchase fresh organic strawberries from the grower and eat them asap.

Reference: Peng Jina, Shiow Y. Wangc, Chien Y. Wanga, and Yonghua Zheng. Effect of cultural system and storage temperature on antioxidant capacity and phenolic compounds in strawberries. Food Chemistry Volume 124, Issue 1, 1 January 2011, Pages 262-270 

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Drink your blueberries

In a recent post I talked about consuming two and a half cups of blueberries to obtain an improvement in heart health indicators. Well today via Natural Health Reviews I found out that drinking a 500ml (two glasses) of Van Dyk 100% wild blue berry juice daily over a 12 week period has positive benefit in mental health and cognition of seniors. More precisely:
  •  Improved paired associate learning and word list recall. 
  • In addition, there were trends suggesting reduced depressive symptoms and lower glucose levels.
I wonder if drinking this 500ml of juice also had benefits for heart disease. It would be much easier to drink a bottle of juice (they come in 500ml glass bottles) than 2 1/2 cups of berries. Also it is likely to be cheaper in the blueberry off season. To obtain berries in the off season one would need to purchase them frozen, or pay exorbitant prices to get them air freighted from the other side of the world.

The drink is not yet available in NZ. However I am sure that google would reveal a distributor/retailer who would ship internationally. 

Reference: Robert Krikorian, Marcelle D. Shidler§, Tiffany A. Nash, Wilhelmina Kalt, Melinda R. Vinqvist-Tymchuk, Barbara Shukitt-Hale and James A. Joseph  Blueberry Supplementation Improves Memory in Older Adults J. Agric. Food Chem., 2010, 58 (7), pp 3996–4000  DOI: 10.1021/jf9029332

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Tamarillo - no one really knows its nutritional value

After my bike ride this morning I wondered around the garden cooling down and eating the fruit that I could find. Not to much is season, but found some cape gooseberries, passionfruit and tamarillos. After eating the tamarillos I wondered what the nutritional value of them would be (we have the orange variety as its heaps nicer, ie less acidic, than the red). Well it turns out that there is only a very small handful of papers that have researched tamarillos. And the information isn't any surprise. They have antioxidants. To be technical there are:
  • The golden orange variety has 125 mg gallic acid equivalents/100 g fresh weight and has less antioxidants than the red variety.
  • Tamarillo showed 3 anthocyanins and 17 carotenoids which are at 8.5 and 4.4 mg/100 g respectively. The most common anthocyanin was delphinidin 3-rutinoside and beta-cryptoxanthin was the most common carotenoid. 
 The red tamarillo also has the following anthocyanins (using older chemical notation as it was a 1974 paper):
  • pelargonidin-3-rutinoside, 
  • pelargonidin-3-glucoside, 
  • cyanidin-3-rutinoside, 
  • cyanidin-3-glucoside, 
  • delphinidin-3-rutinoside 
  • delphinidin-3-glucoside.
With The intense purple-coloured jelly surrounding the seeds contained the greatest concentration of anthocyanins. Flavones, flavonols and leucoanthocyanins were also present in this material. The yellow-coloured flesh contained flavones and low concentration of anthocyanins.

So what does all this mean. Not much really. These compounds haven't been extensively studied. So once again we have a fruit that might be hugely beneficial yet we don't really know.