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October Dish: Serving Up Cool Things in Food This Month

Jess Hines, Chief Blogger

Skimp on sugar and splurge on fortified flour. These are a few of the cool things that happened in the food space this month.

Here are some of the highlights.

Better Juice
Source: FoodBev Media

An Israeli startup, Better Juice, has developed a enzymatic sugar-reduction technology that converts sugar to fiber in juice. The process joins simple sugar molecules into long-chain carbohydrates, creating a lower-sugar, higher-fiber fruit juice. The technology, still in beta form, has been successfully tested on apple juice and orange juice, decreasing sugar content in several different orange juice brands from 30 percent up to 80 percent.

Why it’s cool: There is a lot of information out there about just how healthy fruit juice is. It contains the word “fruit,” so it must be just as good as peeling a fresh orange or biting into a juicy apple, right? Would you be surprised to know that many fruit juices are often just as bad or even worse for you than a sugary soda—sometimes containing almost 40 grams of sugar per 8 oz. serving?

While fruit juice can contain essential vitamins and minerals like Vitamin C, potassium, and a range of B vitamins, the high sugar content and lack of fiber typically outweigh the nutritional benefits. This new technology from Better Juice could potentially fix the two biggest health gripes about fruit juice, and the company claims that because the solution involves only one step in the juice-making process, the price point will be comparable to other premium juices.

Folic acid fortified flour
Source: FoodBev Media

The UK government has agreed to consult a plan that will require all flour to go through folic fortification. Medical experts in the UK claim that fortifying flour with folic acid can reduce the instance of birth defects in babies, such as spina bifida, and other conditions that can cause serious disability or even premature death. If passed, this mandate has been called a “game-changer” for the UK.

Why it’s cool: Folic acid is a synthesized variant of Vitamin B called folate. Folate is typically found in dark leafy greens and citrus fruits—but the best source of folate is found in fortified cereals. Folic acid is essential in the development of the brain and spinal cord of a baby.

During the first few months of pregnancy, women are advised to get at least 400 micrograms of folic acid, mainly through dietary supplements. But about half of pregnancies in the UK are unplanned, which means many women are lacking the vital nutrients they need in the early stages of their pregnancy. Experts claim there is no unsafe amount of folate for individuals to consume, therefore making mandatory fortification safe for nation-wide consumption, and highly beneficial for pregnant women who are not getting enough folic acid.

Folic fortification is already in place in 80 countries, including the U.S. Since the implementation of fortification in 1998, the U.S. has seen a 23 percent drop in birth defects associated with folic acid deficiency.

Lactoferrin
Source: Food Dive

A new study from Virginia Tech College of Agriculture and Life Sciences claims that lactoferrin, a protein found in milk, may help improve taste and smell in cancer patients being treated with chemotherapy. When given lactoferrin supplements, cancer patients experienced significantly reduced taste and smell abnormalities.

Why it’s cool: Lactoferrin is typically found in saliva, and in both human and cow milk, and has a wide range of benefits. It helps regulate iron absorption and has been linked to protecting against bacterial infections and boosting the immune system. It’s often used in medicinal form to treat stomach and intestinal ulcers, hepatitis C, and may be a key piece to solving global iron deficiency.

More than half of cancer patients who go through chemotherapy treatment experience dysgeusia, which is impaired sense of taste or smell, often described as a “metallic.” This can last days, weeks or even months after undergoing chemotherapy, and can often lead to loss of appetite, malnutrition and depression due to the inability to enjoy food.

According to this new study, cancer patients who took lactoferrin supplements for 30 days had reduced levels of salivary Fe (“iron” saliva—which explains the metallic taste), but also reported reduced abnormalities in taste. Researchers hope this is a step to improving quality of life for chemotherapy patients.

Published October 31, 2018.

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