Saturday, April 14, 2018

Roasting to Perfection

Manipulating the temperature and the length of time under which cocoa beans are roasted can simultaneously preserve and even boost the potency of some bioactive and antioxidant compounds while protecting desired sensory aspects of chocolate, according to Penn State researchers

Researchers investigated the impact of whole-bean roasting on the polyphenol content, aroma-related chemistry and pancreatic lipase inhibitory activity of cocoa under a range of roasting conditions. The inhibition of pancreatic lipase activity is a potential anti-obesity strategy. Pancreatic lipase breaks down triglycerides into fatty acids, which then get absorbed through the lining of the small intestine. A pancreatic lipase inhibitor prevents the formation of fatty acids and therefore prevents absorption of dietary fats into the body.

The research findings suggest that cocoa roasting can be optimized to increase the content of some polyphenols and boost anti-pancreas-lipase activity, while maintaining a favorable aroma profile

Researchers found that cocoa roasted at 338 F or better inhibited pancreatic lipase inhibitory activity than cocoa roasted at lower temperatures. Cocoa aroma-related compounds increased with roasting above 212 F, whereas deleterious sensory-related compounds formed at more severe temperatures, 338 F.

Specialty Foods
Artwork: Cocoa Beans

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Acrylamide in Coffee

Superior Court Judge Elihu Berle recently ruled that California law requires coffee companies to carry a cancer warning label because of a chemical produced in the roasting process known as acrylamide, a possible carcinogen found in many cooked foods.

This ruling runs counter to many studies suggesting that coffee consumption helps reduce cancer risk, but acrylamide is considered a probable or likely carcinogen, based on animal research, and all coffee contains some acrylamide.

In 2016, the FDA published "Guidance for Industry Acrylamide in Foods" containing information to help growers, manufacturers, and food service operators reduce acrylamide levels in certain foods. Little is truly known about factors affecting acrylamide concentrations in coffee, but the FDA makes these observations:

"Robusta beans have somewhat higher acrylamide levels than arabica beans. Dark roast coffee has less acrylamide than light roast coffee (since acrylamide formed early in roasting is destroyed later in the roasting process). Acrylamide levels in roasted coffee decline during long-term storage. Also, different preparation methods (e.g., espresso versus filter brewed) result in different levels of acrylamide in coffee as consumed."

In 2006, the FDA published "Survey Data on Acrylamide in Food: Individual Food Products"
Results ranged from 175 to 351 parts per billion for six brands of coffee tested; the highest was for one type of decaf coffee crystals. By comparison, French fries ranged from 117 to 313 parts per billion, depending on the location tested, and some commercial fries had more than 1,000.

At present, no one knows what acrylamide levels in foods are safe or risky for human consumption. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's recommended acrylamide limit for drinking water is zero.

Artwork: Coffee Poster

Monday, February 19, 2018

Health Benefits of Tea

After water, tea is the most widely consumed beverage in the world. Unique phytochemicals in the Camellia sinensis plant used to produce white, green, black, and oolong teas contribute to their beneficient health properties. 

More than 2,000 studies conducted on tea over the past decade provide strong evidence that teas are associated with prevention of diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Some teas are also associated with lower blood pressure and cholesterol, and increased bone mineral density and mental alertness. There is also strong evidence that tea protects brain health.

Green tea is minimally processed and a great source of antioxidants that help ward off cell damage that leads to disease.  It has the highest concentration of EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate), a very potent antioxidant that helps prevent cancers of various kinds, helps prevent cardiovascular disease, reduces oxidative stress on the brain, reduces risk of stroke, improves cholesterol, and helps reduce disorders such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

A Japanese study that covered thousands of people showed that elderly adults who drank green tea showed less disability and were more agile and independent than their peers.

Black tea begins the same as green tea, but is processed differently and then fermented before being dried.  Both green and black teas contain high levels of healthy antioxidant polyphenols, but their properties and benefits.cA 2008 study found that people who drank the most black tea had a much lower risk of Parkinson’s.

White tea is uncured and unfermented, and has been associated with anticancer properties.

Oolong tea is processed uniquely and contains antioxidants that have been associated with lowering of “bad” cholesterol levels.

Whatever the variety, steep tea for three minutes to enjoy the benefits of the healthful phytochemicals and to produce a rich flavor.  Decaffeinated tea may have reduced phytochemical activity, as will most bottled and instant teas. The more processed the tea, generally the fewer healthful phytochemicals.

Artwork: Japanese Green Tea

Source: University of Missouri Extension

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Some Veggies Better Off Cooked

Some vegetables are healthier cooked than raw, according to Consumer Reports. Cooking breaks down the cell walls of some  veggies, making it easier for the human body to absorb the nutrients. Some examples:

Spinach is rich in calcium and iron, but to get the maximum benefit the leaves must be blanched lightly and then plunged into cold water. This reduces the levels of an acid present in raw spinach that inhibits absorption.

Carrots, when cooked, provide about 14 percent more carotenoids, an antioxidants.

White mushrooms, when cooked, have about double the amount of important nutrients like potassium, niacin, zinc and magnesium.

Asparagus, boiled until it turns bright green, has much more cancer-fighting antioxidants and phenolic acid.

Tomatoes, when cooked, have about 35 percent more of a disease-fighting antioxidant called lycopene and a deeper, more intense flavor experience.

Consumer Reports
Farm Produce
Artwork: Cooking Vegetables by Sher Sester
Source: Consumer Reports

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Best Sources for Omega-3s

Omega-3 fatty acids have some serious health benefits. Besides being good for the cardiovascular system, they've been linked with decreasing the risk of age-related macular degeneration (leading cause of blindness in older adults) as well as a lower risk of dementia, Alzheimer's disease, and other types of age-related cognitive decline.

To increase the level of omega-3s in a diet, focus on fish. Here's how much omega-3 fatty acids are in 3-ounce (cooked) servings of:

Salmon, more than 1,900 milligrams.
Herring, nearly 1,900 milligrams.
Fresh bluefin tuna, about 1,400 milligrams.
Wild rainbow trout, about 1,000 milligrams.

Also, 3 ounces of white tuna canned in water and drained has 800 milligrams of omega-3 fatty acids. And, a 3.75-ounce can of sardines, canned in oil and drained, has about 1,400 milligrams.

Other types of fatty fish -- swordfish, tilefish (golden bass or golden snapper), shark and King mackerel -- are also very high in omega-3 fatty acids, but they also tend to be high in mercury.

Be aware, however, that it is possible to get too much omega-3. There's no standard recommendation on minimum or maximum amounts, but for people who already have heart disease the American Heart Association recommends 1,000 milligrams a day of the two main types of omega-3 fats found in fish, EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexenoic acid). The third type of omega-3, ALA (alpha-linoleic acid), is found primarily in seeds and nuts.

Seafood and Fish
Artwork: Wild Alaskan Sockeye Salmon Fillets

Ohio State University Extension and the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Coffee Is Beneficial

Drinking coffee is "more likely to benefit health than to harm it," say British researchers who carried out an umbrella review of more than 200 clinical trials across all countries and all settings. They found that drinking three to four cups of coffee a day is associated with a lower risk of death and getting heart disease compared with drinking no coffee. Coffee drinking is also associated with lower risk of some cancers, diabetes, liver disease and dementia.

Coffee greatest benefit was seen for liver conditions, such as cirrhosis of the liver. And, there seemed to be beneficial associations between coffee consumption and Parkinson's disease, depression and Alzheimer's disease.

There was less evidence for the effects of drinking decaffeinated coffee but it had similar benefits for a number of outcomes.

Source:The BMJ (formerly the British Medical Journal)

Coffee: Emerging Health Effects and Disease Prevention
Beverage Supplies
Artwork: Coffee Poster

Monday, November 20, 2017

Mushrooms Slow Aging

Researchers from Pennsylvania State University have found that mushrooms are “without a doubt” the single biggest source of two antioxidants found to have anti-aging properties. The compounds, ergothioneine and glutathione, are present in a number of mushrooms, but some species have more than others. Wild porcini mushrooms have more tantioxidants “by far” than any other species tested, but common white button mushrooms are also beneficial.

The positive effects of the fungi remain even when cooked, fending off diseases associated with aging such as coronary heart disease, cancer, and Alzheimer’s.

Source: Penn State

In Season
Here's How To... Grow Mushrooms
Artwork: Dried Porcini Mushrooms