Researchers Developed Method to Authenticate Between Organic and Conventional milk

In the current climate, food fraud is becoming a substantial issue.

Sometimes, food fraud can be dangerous, such as the recent reports of chilli powder being adulterated with red brick powder, or reports of milk being mixed with detergent, paint and oil and being sold as milk in India. However, a lot of the time it does not pose a health risk to consumers. If an expensive cut of meat is changed for a cheaper version at a restaurant, or if food labelled ‘organic’, isn’t really organic, it won’t affect the health of people. This type of food fraud lies with companies being honest in their advertising.

A study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, details how researchers have used isotope analysis to discriminate between organic and conventional milk.

Isotopes are variants of particular chemical element. For example, carbon is present in a number of forms. Carbon-12 is the most common form, and has 6 neutrons. Carbon-13 and carbon-14 also exist, but are less common, with 7 and 8 neutrons respectively.

Despite being chemically identical, chemists are able to tell the difference between isotopes in the laboratory. The main challenge that the scientists faced was determining a unique chemical that would differentiate between organic and conventional milk.

As isotope ratios do not generally fluctuate, the research team focused on these over levels of individual nutrients, which do change.

The researchers realised that cows raised using conventional means, or ones fed organic diets would have different isotope ratios in their milk. Despite having a limited sample in their analysis, the researchers found that linoleic acid and myristic acid, two types of fatty acids, had discernibly different isotopic signatures.

Due to the limited sample size, the researchers mentioned that this study should be thought of as a proof-of-concept. To investigate this further, samples from all over the world should be analysed for these differences in isotopic ratios.

The research team published the study in the journal Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

Source: New Food magazine


Somen Nests with Eggplant and Shiitake Mushrooms


2 small eggplants, cut into 1/2-inch thick slices
12 dried shiitake mushrooms
1 cup boiling water
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3-1/2 oz fresh enoki mushrooms
1 teaspoon dashi granules
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon white miso
1 tablespoon mirin (sweet rice wine)
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup Japanese soy sauce
11 oz dried somen noodles


  1. Blanch the sliced eggplant in boiling water for 5 minutes. Drain and transfer to a plate and weigh down for 15 minutes to press out any remaining liquid. Pat dry.
  2. Soak the dried shiitake mushrooms in the boiling water for 10 minutes. Drain and reserve the liquid.
  3. Heat the oil in a large frying pan and cook the eggplant slices in batches until golden brown on both sides. Remove.
  4. Add the enoki mushrooms and cook for 10 seconds. Remove.
  5. Stir in the dashi, sugar, miso, mirin, reserved liquid, water, soy sauce and shiitake mushrooms and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes.
  6. Cook the somen noodles in boiling water for 3 minutes or until tender. Drain.
  7. Place nests of the noodles onto plates, top with eggplant slices and the mushrooms, and drizzle with the sauce.

Makes 4 servings.

Source: Food Style – Noodles

In Pictures: Japanese Hot Pot

Few U.S. Teens Get Enough Fiber

Lisa Rapaport wrote . . . . . . . . .

Most teens eat far less fiber than recommended, and this nutritional deficit may lead to a higher risk of diabetes and high blood pressure in the future, a U.S. study suggests.

Researchers questioned 754 teens from Augusta, Georgia, about their eating habits on at least four separate occasions. Researchers also tested participants’ blood pressure and blood sugar levels and looked for insulin resistance, which happens when the body is less effective at using the hormone insulin to convert sugars in the blood into energy for cells.

Only two teens in the study consumed the minimum amount of daily recommended fiber – 38 grams for males and 25 grams for females – researchers report in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Overall, participants consumed an average of 10.9 grams daily.

“Our adolescents had very low intakes of soluble and insoluble fiber,” said senior study author Haidong Zhu of the Medical College of Georgia and Augusta University.

“Both lower soluble and insoluble fiber intakes were associated with higher insulin levels; furthermore, lower soluble fiber intake was associated with higher systolic and diastolic blood pressure,” Zhu said by email.

Dietary fiber can be found in a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds. It can help people feel fuller when they eat, aiding with weight management, and it has also been linked to a lower risk of heart disease and diabetes, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Most Americans eat far less fiber than recommended, however.

For the study, researchers looked at total fiber as well as each of the two types of fiber people need in their diet. Insoluble fiber, often called roughage, can be found in grains, nuts, fruits and veggies and helps prevent constipation. Soluble fiber in beans, oats, barley and avocados helps soften stool and also helps slow down the amount of sugar absorbed in the blood.

Males in the study had average total daily fiber intake of 12 grams, the study found. Increasing this to the recommended daily minimum of 38 grams could lead to decreases in blood pressure, blood sugar and insulin resistance, the study team estimated.

Teen boys who increased their fiber intake to the daily recommended amount, for example, could see their systolic blood pressure – the top number that shows what happens when the heart beats — drop by an average of 6.3 mmHg (millimeters of mercury). They could also see their diastolic blood pressure – the bottom number that shows what happens when the heart rests between beats – drop by an average of 5.2 mmHg.

Adolescent girls who increased their fiber intake to the recommended 25 grams a day could see their systolic blood pressure drop by an average of 3.7 mmHg and their diastolic pressure decline by 3.0 mmHg on average.

While these teens didn’t have high blood pressure, reductions of that magnitude might be enough for some adults with elevated blood pressure to reduce it back to a healthy range.

The study wasn’t a controlled experiment designed to prove whether or how fiber intake might directly impact blood pressure or risk factors for diabetes, and it also wasn’t designed to show how teen eating habits or lab results might lead to specific health outcomes in adulthood.

“It is really likely the entire lifestyle that is operating here – physical activity and dietary choices,” said Dr. Margo Denke, a former professor of medicine at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School in Dallas who wasn’t involved in the study.

“This paper reiterates key elements of the theoretical relationship between dietary intake and metabolic syndrome,” a cluster of risk factors for heart disease and diabetes, Denke said by email.

Teens are likely missing a lot of fiber in their diets because they consume too much processed food and not enough whole grains, fruits, and veggies, Denke added.

Source: Reuters

Giving Up Alcohol for Just 1 Month Has Lasting Benefits

Maria Cohut wrote . . . . . . . . .

Dry January is an initiative of the charity organization Alcohol Change United Kingdom, which encourages people to try giving up alcohol for 1 month at the start of the year.

Although the charity that promotes this effort is UK-based, thousands of people around the world pledge to take part in this campaign each year.

It is fairly logical to assume that giving up alcohol for 31 days can only benefit health, since drinking regularly is a major risk factor for cancer, liver disease, and cardiovascular diseases, among other issues.

Now, a study by researchers from the University of Sussex in Falmer, UK, shows just how much skipping alcohol for 1 month can improve your life and concludes that these benefits are long-lasting.

The research, which Dr. Richard de Visser from the University of Sussex led, found that people who took part in Dry January in 2018 reported higher energy levels and healthier body weight. They also felt less need to drink alcohol, even several months after participating in this initiative.

Dr. de Visser and team analyzed data that they collected from Dry January participants in three online surveys. A total of 2,821 people filled in a survey upon registering for the campaign at the beginning of January. In the first week of February, 1,715 participants completed a survey, and 816 participants submitted additional data in August 2018.

The researchers found that giving up alcohol for a month helped the participants reduce their number of drinking days later in the year. The number decreased from an average of 4.3 days per week before taking part in Dry January to an average of 3.3 days per week afterward.

Moreover, people who went teetotal for a month also got drunk a lot less frequently later on in the year. Rates of excessive drinking fell from an average of 3.4 times per month at baseline to 2.1 times per month on average.

In fact, Dry January participants also learned to drink less. They went from consuming an average of 8.6 units of alcohol per drinking day at baseline to 7.1 units of alcohol per drinking day later on.

“The simple act of taking a month off alcohol helps people drink less in the long term; by August, people are reporting one extra dry day per week,” notes Dr. de Visser.

“There are also considerable immediate benefits: nine in 10 people save money, seven in 10 sleep better, and three in five lose weight,” he adds.

Important benefits, however, are also available to those who give up alcohol for shorter periods. An alcohol-free month would be better, but even less than that can still boost a person’s health, Dr. de Visser says.

“Interestingly, these changes in alcohol consumption have also been seen in the participants who didn’t manage to stay alcohol-free for the whole month — although they are a bit smaller. This shows that there are real benefits to just trying to complete Dry January,” the researcher emphasizes.

A long list of benefits

The people who took part in Dry January last year noted numerous mental and physical health benefits as well as a “healthier” bank account. More specifically:

  • 93 percent of participants reported experiencing a sense of achievement at the end of the alcohol-free month
  • 88 percent had saved the money that they would otherwise have spent on drinks
  • 82 percent of participants reported an enhanced awareness of their relationship with alcohol
  • 80 percent felt more in control of their drinking habits
  • 76 percent understood when they felt more tempted to drink and why
  • 71 percent of participants learned that they did not need alcohol to have fun
  • 71 percent said that they enjoyed a better quality of sleep
  • 70 percent reported better overall health
  • 67 percent had higher energy levels
  • 58 percent of participants lost weight
  • 57 percent reported improved concentration
  • 54 percent said that they noticed better skin health

“The brilliant thing about Dry January is that it’s not really about January. Being alcohol-free for 31 days shows us that we don’t need alcohol to have fun, to relax, to socialize,” says Dr. Richard Piper, the CEO of Alcohol Change UK.

“That means that for the rest of the year, we are better able to make decisions about our drinking and to avoid slipping into drinking more than we really want to,” Dr. Piper notes.

“Many of us know about the health risks of alcohol — seven forms of cancer, liver disease, mental health problems — but we are often unaware that drinking less has more immediate benefits too. Sleeping better, feeling more energetic, saving money, better skin, losing weight… The list goes on.” says Dr. Richard Piper.

So, be it this January or later in the year, you may want to try swapping alcohol for tea, juice, or water for a month or even a few weeks. It could make you happier and healthier, and your bank account will thank you too.

Source: Medical News Today

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