FOOD BITES: OCTOBER 2017

U.S. Obesity Rates Begin to Level

After years of increasing, adult obesity rates remained stable in 45 states from 2015 to 2016, according to a new report from the Trust for America’s Health, a nonprofit health advocacy organization, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, a philanthropic organization that funds health research.

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FOOD BITES: SEPTEMBER 2017

Tomatoes No Longer Considered ‘Poison Apples’

Originating in Mesoamerica, tomatoes were part of the Aztecs’ diet as early as 700 A.D., but they weren’t grown in Britain until the 1590s. First arriving in southern Europe in the early 16th century via Spanish conquistadors returning from Mesoamerica, the tomato was considered a “poison apple”

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FOOD BITES: DECEMBER 2017

Milk Proteins Make Edible  Wrapping

To create an all-around better packaging solution, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is developing environmentally friendly film made of the milk protein casein to wrap meats, cheese and other food items. “The protein-based films are powerful oxygen blockers that help prevent food spoilage,”

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FOOD BITES: JANUARY 2017

Bomb-Detecting Spinach


Experimenting with a new field called plant nanobionics, MIT scientists have embedded the leaves of spinach plants with carbon nanotubes that are capable of detecting nitroaromatics – compounds often found in landmines and other explosives. As the spinach plant draws in groundwater, it can detect if nitroaromatics are present. Within 10 minutes, carbon nanotubes in the plant’s leaves will emit a fluorescent signal. Infrared cameras pick up the signal and broadcast it to a smartphone-like device that sends an email. Nanobionics aims to utilize the environmental responsiveness of plants because they can detect small changes and are even “aware” of impending droughts before people are. Other scientists working with nanobionics are exploring nitric oxide sensors, detecting dopamine and performing drought detection and even terrorism-related activities. The MIT team published their results in the journal Nature Materials.


Green Tea Molecule May Block Zika


Green tea has antioxidant properties, one of which is a polyphenol called EGCG. Scientists aren’t entirely sure how, but this molecule has been shown to fight antibiotic-resistant infections and other viruses such as

hepatitis C and HIV. Recently, scientists exposed the Zika virus to high concentrations of EGCG, and the polyphenol prevented 90 percent of the virus from entering and infecting host cells. Even better, EGCG is safe for pregnant women. The results were published in the journal Virology.


Nestlé Patenting Lower-Sugar Chocolate that Tastes the Same


Nestlé researchers claim they have found a way to structure sugar differently using only natural ingredients – and the decreased sugar content doesn’t make the chocolate taste different than chocolate made with standard amounts. “This process has the potential to reduce total sugar by up to 40 percent in our confectionery,” said Nestlé chief technology officer Stefan Catsicas. The Swiss company is patenting its discovery, which will be available to consumers beginning in 2018.  


ANGELA S. HOOVER

Angela is a staff writer for Health & Wellness magazine.

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