Sourdough Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients

1 cup butter
3/4 cup unrefined cane sugar
3/4 cup cane juice crystals
1 egg
1 cup fresh sourdough starter
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 to 2 cups organic chocolate chips

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Cream together butter and egg.
  3. Mix in the sourdough starter and vanilla extract.
  4. In a separate bowl, combine the dry ingredients.
  5. Mix the wet and dry ingredients. (Careful not to over-mix!)
  6. Mix in the chocolate chips.
  7. Allow the dough to rest for 15 minutes.
  8. Shape the dough into small balls (2 tsp per cookie). Flatten and place on a cookie sheet.
  9. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes.

Makes about 4 dozen small cookies.

Source: Culture for Health

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The price is 560 yen plus tax in Japan.

Health-promoting Phenolic Acids Lost During Processing from Corn to Flake

For many Americans, highly processed foods are on the menu for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Even when the raw materials – grains, for example – are high in vitamins and health-promoting phenolic compounds, processing can rob the final product of these nutrients. In a set of recent studies, University of Illinois scientists reveal what happens to cancer-fighting phenolic acids in corn when it is processed into cornflakes.

In a Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry study, the research team made cornflakes from 19 corn genotypes varying in phenolic content. They wanted to know if higher ferulic acid and p-courmaric acid content in the corn kernel translated to higher concentrations of these phenolics in the final product.

“What we found was not particularly good news, but it was interesting. Regardless of the concentration in the grain at the beginning, the dry-milling process removes the majority of phenolics,” says Carrie Butts-Wilmsmeyer, lead author of the two studies and research assistant professor in the Department of Crop Sciences at U of I.

The phenolic compounds in corn are primarily concentrated in the bran, or the outer covering of the corn kernel, which is removed in the first steps of the dry-milling process. The researchers wanted to determine if they could increase the remaining soluble phenolic content by heating the starchy leftovers during later processing stages. Although most of the phenolics in corn are bound to fiber, heat can release bound forms of the compounds and improve the antioxidant content of corn-based foods.

“We did see an increase in soluble phenolics, but it was so small, you could have gotten the same benefit from going to the refrigerator and eating a few blueberries,” Butts-Wilmsmeyer says.

Despite the less-than-ideal outcome, the studies represent important steps forward for food science researchers and the food processing industry. First, the lab-bench-size process developed and demonstrated by the researchers in JoVE Video Journal allows testing of small batches of experimental corn lines.

“Before this project, the only published study on cornflake processing used a sample size of 45 kilograms. We worked with ag engineers to get it down to 100 grams, literally a 450th of the size,” Butts-Wilmsmeyer says.

They found that the biggest changes in phenolic content were happening at three stages of the dry-milling process: whole kernel, flaking grit, and toasted cornflake.

“Since we now have the process miniaturized and can control everything in the lab, we can also start figuring out how we can change the process to recover more of these compounds in the end product,” says Martin Bohn, co-author of the studies and associate professor in the Department of Crop Sciences at U of I.

Although the phenolics didn’t make it to the final product, they weren’t lost entirely.

“We have to focus on the bran and other ‘waste’ products,” Bohn says. “Is it possible to extract these compounds and fortify the food with them? This is what I think is important. Our study showed that at the beginning, there’s variability in corn hybrids for all these compounds but through processing, it’s all leveled off, it’s all gone. But they’re still in the co-products, and I think we could actually recover them and add them to the end product.”

Butts-Wilmsmeyer says fortifying processed foods with health-promoting, cancer-fighting phenolics could benefit people without easy access to fresh foods, such as Americans living in food deserts. “These itty-bitty compounds are tied to everything,” she says.

Source: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Study: High Blood Pressure Threatens Aging Brain

Maureen Salamon wrote . . . . . . . . . .

Here’s yet another reason to get your blood pressure under control: High blood pressure later in life may contribute to blood vessel blockages and tangles linked to Alzheimer’s disease, new research suggests.

Tracking nearly 1,300 older people until they died, scientists found markedly higher risks of one or more brain lesions among those with high systolic blood pressure readings.

These lesions were dominated by so-called “infarcts” — areas of dead tissue prompted by blood supply blockages that can trigger strokes.

Normal blood pressure is defined as 120/80 mm/Hg or lower. The top number is known as systolic blood pressure (pressure in vessels during heartbeats), while the lower number is diastolic blood pressure (pressure between beats).

Late last year, the American College of Cardiology and American Heart Association changed blood pressure recommendations, defining high blood pressure as 130/80 mm/Hg or higher.

“We’ve known for many decades that higher blood pressure, especially younger in life, is related to strokes. But we know a lot less regarding cerebrovascular disease and wanted to examine the question of blood pressure later in life,” said study author Dr. Zoe Arvanitakis. She’s medical director of the Rush Memory Clinic in Chicago.

“I think this information is of great value to researchers who study brain changes in aging,” she added, “and certainly points to the need for a lot more research to be done.”

Arvanitakis and her team followed nearly 1,300 people until their death, which occurred at an average age of nearly 89. Two-thirds of the participants, who were mostly women, had a history of high blood pressure, and 87 percent took blood pressure medication.

Using autopsy results after participants’ deaths, the researchers learned that 48 percent had one or more brain infarct lesions. The risk of lesions was higher in those with higher average systolic blood pressure readings over the years.

For example, for someone with an average systolic blood pressure of 147 mm/Hg compared to 134 mm/Hg, the odds of brain lesions increased 46 percent. A smaller but still notable increased risk of brain lesions was found in those with elevated diastolic blood pressure as well.

Looking for signs of Alzheimer’s disease in autopsied brains, the researchers also saw an association between higher systolic blood pressure in the years before death and higher amounts of tangles — knots of brain cells signifying the presence of the condition.

However, amyloid plaques, which also characterize an Alzheimer’s-affected brain, weren’t linked to blood pressure in the research. Arvanitakis said more studies are needed.

Dr. Ajay Misra is chairman of neurosciences at NYU Winthrop Hospital in Mineola, N.Y. He described the study as “very important” and said it should prompt crucial dialogue about how to best manage blood pressure in older adults.

“A lot of good information came out, but there are more questions than answers,” said Misra, who wasn’t involved in the new research. “This study was done to provoke that sort of questioning.”

Misra noted the study found that rapidly decreasing blood pressure in older adults actually increased stroke risks. A potential reason for that, he said, is that arteries become less elastic as we age, so slightly higher blood pressure is necessary to keep blood flowing adequately.

“This acts as a reminder that you cannot just go and publish that one set of blood pressure guidelines is good for all,” he added. “I think it will either be age-specific about how blood pressure should be maintained, or there should be some disease- or circumstance-specific guidelines.”

The study was published online in the journal Neurology.

Source: HealthDay


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