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Here’s an item from this week’s PressPac that we thought you’d enjoy. The PressPac features summaries of articles appearing in our peer-reviewed journals and Chemical & Engineering News. To get the entire PressPac in your inbox, email us at newsroom@acs.org.


“Sprouted” garlic — old garlic bulbs with bright green shoots emerging from the cloves — is considered to be past its prime and usually ends up in the garbage can. But scientists are reporting in ACS’ Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry that this type of garlic has even more heart-healthy antioxidant activity than its fresher counterparts.


Jong-Sang Kim and colleagues note that people have used garlic for medicinal purposes for thousands of years. Today, people still celebrate its healthful benefits. Eating garlic or taking garlic supplements is touted as a natural way to reduce cholesterol levels, blood pressure and heart disease risk. It even may boost the immune system and help fight cancer. But those benefits are for fresh, raw garlic. Sprouted garlic has received much less attention. When seedlings grow into green plants, they make many new compounds, including those that protect the young plant against pathogens. Kim’s group reasoned that the same thing might be happening when green shoots grow from old heads of garlic. Other studies have shown that sprouted beans and grains have increased antioxidant activity, so the team set out to see if the same is true for garlic.


They found that garlic sprouted for five days had higher antioxidant activity than fresher, younger bulbs, and it had different metabolites, suggesting that it also makes different substances. Extracts from this garlic even protected cells in a laboratory dish from certain types of damage. “Therefore, sprouting may be a useful way to improve the antioxidant potential of garlic,” they conclude.


The authors acknowledge funding from the IPET High Value-Added Food Technology Development Program.


“Garlic Sprouting Is Associated with Increased Antioxidant Activity and Concomitant Changes in the Metabolite Profile”


Click here for the abstract.


*Journalists can request a PDF of the journal article by emailing newsroom@acs.org.


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Here’s an item from this week’s PressPac that we thought you’d enjoy. The PressPac features summaries of articles appearing in our peer-reviewed journals and Chemical & Engineering News. To get the entire PressPac in your inbox, email us at newsroom@acs.org.


While taking in the scenery during long road trips, passengers also may be taking in potentially harmful ultrafine particles (UFPs) that come into the car through outdoor air vents. Closing the vents reduces UFPs, but causes exhaled carbon dioxide to build up. Now, scientists report in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology that installing a newly developed high-efficiency cabin air filter (HECA) could reduce UFP exposure by 93 percent and keep carbon dioxide levels low.

 

Yifang Zhu and Eon Lee explain that most modern cars come with cabin air filters, but they only block 40-60 percent of the UFPs when in “outdoor air mode.” These particles are 100 nanometers or less in diameter; about a thousand of them could fit across the width of a human hair. Studies suggest that UFPs, which are found in automotive exhaust, may be linked with health problems. Switching the venting system into “recirculation mode” reduces UFPs by 90 percent, but because the interior is closed off from the outside, exhaled carbon dioxide can potentially build up to levels that could impair decision-making. To address this challenge, Zhu and Lee decided to develop a method that would simultaneously reduce UFPs inside cars, while also allowing carbon dioxide to escape.

 

They developed HECA filters that could reduce UFP levels by an average of 93 percent in 12 commercially available vehicles while driving in outdoor air mode. Compared with the original manufacturer-installed filters, the new one is made of synthetic fibers of much smaller diameters. Carbon dioxide remained at a “reasonable” level, they say.

 

The authors acknowledge funding from the California Air Resources Board and the National Science Foundation.


“Application of a High Efficiency Cabin Air Filter for Simultaneous Mitigation of Ultrafine Particle and Carbon Dioxide Exposures inside Passenger Vehicles”


Click here for the abstract.


*Journalists can request a PDF of the journal article by emailing newsroom@acs.org.


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Here’s an item from this week’s PressPac that we thought you’d enjoy. The PressPac features summaries of articles appearing in our peer-reviewed journals and Chemical & Engineering News. To get the entire PressPac in your inbox, email us at newsroom@acs.org.


Whether lifting weights in a gym or just walking around the block, exercise has many benefits, such as helping people lose weight and build stronger muscles. Some studies suggest that it may reduce the risk of developing cancer and other diseases. Researchers now report in ACS’ Journal of Proteome Research that moderate, long-term physical activity appears to improve cardiovascular health in mice by targeting the heart cells’ powerhouses — the mitochondria.


Eduard Sabidó, Francisco Amado and colleagues explain that despite the well-documented benefits of exercise, the exact way that it helps the heart is not well understood. Sure, it helps strengthen the heart muscle so it can pump more blood throughout the body more efficiently. And people who get off the couch and exercise regularly have a reduced risk of developing heart problems and cardiovascular disease. One estimate even claims that 250,000 deaths every year in the U.S. are at least partially due to a lack of exercise. But how this all happens in the body at the molecular level has perplexed researchers — until now.


The team found that laboratory mice (stand-ins for humans) that exercised for 54 weeks on a treadmill-running regimen had higher levels of certain proteins in the mitochondria of their heart cells than mice that did not exercise. Mitochondria produce energy for the body’s cells. In particular, they identified two proteins, kinases called RAF and p38, that “seem to trigger the beneficial cardiovascular effects of lifelong exercise training,” they say.


The authors acknowledge funding from the 7th Framework Programme of the European Union, Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia, QREN, FEDER and COMPETE.


"Lifelong Exercise Training Modulates Cardiac Mitochondrial Phosphoproteome in Rats"


Click here for the abstract.


*Journalists can request a PDF of the journal article by emailing newsroom@acs.org.


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Here’s an item from this week’s PressPac that we thought you’d enjoy. The PressPac features summaries of articles appearing in our peer-reviewed journals and Chemical & Engineering News. To get the entire PressPac in your inbox, email us at newsroom@acs.org.


Potential side effects of many of today’s therapeutic drugs can be downright frightening — just listen carefully to a drug commercial on TV. These effects often occur when a drug is active throughout the body, not just where and when it is needed. But scientists are reporting progress on a new tailored approach to deliver medicine in a much more targeted way. The study on these new electronically controlled drugs appears in the journal ACS Nano.

 

Xinyan Tracy Cui and colleagues note that in the lab, “smart” medical implants can now release drugs on demand when exposed to various cues, including ultraviolet light and electrical current. These advances are largely thanks to developments in nanomaterials that can be designed to carry drugs and then release them at specific times and dosages. Researchers have also experimented with loading anti-cancer drugs on thin, tiny sheets of graphene oxide (GO), which have a lot of traits that are useful in drug delivery. But current techniques still require tweaking before they’ll be ready for prime time. Cui’s team wanted to work out some of the final kinks.

 

They incorporated GO nanosheets into a polymer thin film that can conduct electricity, loaded it with an anti-inflammatory drug and coated an electrode with it. When they zapped the material with an electric current, they showed that it released the drug consistently in response. They could do this several hundred times. Also, by experimenting with the sizes and thicknesses of the GO sheets, the scientists could change how much drug the nanosheets could carry. Cui said this approach could be useful in treating epilepsy, for example. In that case, medication already lying in wait inside the body could be released at the onset of a seizure.

 

The authors acknowledge funding from the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health.


“Electrically Controlled Drug Delivery from Graphene Oxide Nanocomposite Films”


Click here for the abstract.


*Journalists can request a PDF of the journal article by emailing newsroom@acs.org.
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Here’s an item from this week’s PressPac that we thought you’d enjoy. The PressPac features summaries of articles appearing in our peer-reviewed journals and Chemical & Engineering News. To get the entire PressPac in your inbox, email us at newsroom@acs.org.


Long stigmatized because of its “high”-inducing cousins, hemp — derived from low-hallucinogenic varieties of cannabis — is making a comeback, not just as a source of fiber for textiles, but also as a crop packed with oils that have potential health benefits. A new study, which appears in ACS’ Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, details just how many healthful compounds hempseed oil contains.


Maria Angeles Fernández-Arche and colleagues note that for millennia, people around the world cultivated cannabis for textiles, medicine and food. Hemp has high levels of vitamins A, C and E and beta carotene, and it is rich in protein, carbohydrates, minerals and fiber. In the early 20th century, many countries banned cannabis because some varieties contain large amounts of the high-inducing compound THC. And although Colorado recently legalized recreational marijuana use — and some states have passed medical marijuana laws — the drug remains illegal according to U.S. federal law. But the European Union has legalized growing low-THC versions of hemp, and it’s making its way back into fabrics and paper. With increasing interest in plant oils as a source of healthful compounds, Fernández-Arche’s team wanted to investigate hempseed oil’s potential.


They did a detailed analysis of a portion of hempseed oil. They found it has a variety of interesting substances, such as sterols, aliphatic alcohols and linolenic acids, that research suggests promote good health. For example, it contains α-linolenic acid, which is an omega-3 fatty acid that some studies suggest helps prevent coronary heart disease. The findings could have implications in the pharmaceutical, cosmetic, food and non-food industries, they state.


"Hemp (Cannabis sativa L.) Seed Oil: Analytical and Phytochemical Characterization of the Unsaponifiable Fraction"


Click here for the abstract.


*Journalists can request a PDF of the journal article by emailing newsroom@acs.org.

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Here’s an item from this week’s PressPac that we thought you’d enjoy. The PressPac features summaries of articles appearing in our peer-reviewed journals and Chemical & Engineering News. To get the entire PressPac in your inbox, email us at newsroom@acs.org.


Many U.S. cities are taking steps to grow urban centers in an attempt to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. But a challenge is the significant carbon footprint of spacious suburban living, which in many areas, may be cancelling out these efforts. The report, appearing in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology, found that about half of the country’s household carbon footprint comes from people living in the suburbs.

 

Christopher Jones and Daniel M. Kammen point out that U.S. households, though they only comprise 4.3 percent of the global population, are responsible for about 20 percent of annual worldwide greenhouse gas emissions, which are driving climate change. In response, many governors and mayors across the country have pledged to reduce their states’ and cities’ emissions. But more information on the size and composition of household carbon footprints is needed to inform policies to make these reductions happen. A few studies have helped fill in some gaps, but they’re mostly small in scale and not broadly applicable. Jones and Kammen set out to paint a bigger picture.

 

They built an analytic model using national survey data to estimate average household carbon footprints for over 30,000 zip codes and 10,000 cities and towns in all 50 U.S. states. Their technique integrates a wide range of sectors, including transportation, household energy use and consumption of food, goods and services. The researchers found a number of surprising nuances. For example, Jones and Kammen found that population-dense suburbs have significantly higher carbon footprints on average than lower density suburbs, and there is a huge range across cities. As a result, they conclude that “an entirely new approach of highly tailored, community-scale carbon management is urgently needed.”  They have developed communication and estimation tools for public use at http://coolclimate.berkeley.edu/maps and http://coolclimate.berkeley.edu/carboncalculator.

 

The authors acknowledge funding from the California Air Resources Board and the National Science Foundation.


“Spatial Distribution of U.S. Household Carbon Footprints Reveals Suburbanization Undermines GHG Benefits of Urban Population Density”

 

Click herehttp://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/es4034364for the abstract.


*Journalists can request a PDF of the journal article by emailing newsroom@acs.org.


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Here’s an item from this week’s PressPac that we thought you’d enjoy. The PressPac features summaries of articles appearing in our peer-reviewed journals and Chemical & Engineering News. To get the entire PressPac in your inbox, email us at newsroom@acs.org.


For some people, nothing can top a morsel of luxuriously rich, premium chocolate. But until now, other than depending on their taste buds, chocolate connoisseurs had no way of knowing whether they were getting what they paid for. In ACS’ Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, scientists are reporting, for the first time, a method to authenticate the varietal purity and origin of cacao beans, the source of chocolate’s main ingredient, cocoa.

 

Dapeng Zhang and colleagues note that lower-quality cacao beans often get mixed in with premium varieties on their way to becoming chocolate bars, truffles, sauces and liqueurs. But the stakes for policing the chocolate industry are high. It’s a multi-billion dollar global enterprise, and in some places, it’s as much art as business. There’s also a conservation angle to knowing whether products are truly what confectioners claim them to be. The ability to authenticate premium and rare varieties would encourage growers to maintain cacao biodiversity rather than depend on the most abundant and easiest to grow trees. Researchers have found ways to verify through genetic testing the authenticity of many other crops, including cereals, fruits, olives, tea and coffee, but those methods aren’t suitable for cacao beans. Zhang’s team wanted to address this challenge.

 

Applying the most recent developments in cacao genomics, they were able to identify a small set of DNA markers called SNPs (pronounced “snips”) that make up unique fingerprints of different cacao species. The technique works on single cacao beans and can be scaled up to handle large samples quickly. “To our knowledge, this is the first authentication study in cacao using molecular markers,” the researchers state.

 

The authors acknowledge funding from the Agricultural Research Service, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and a financial gift from the Lindt and Sprüngli chocolate company through the World Cocoa Foundation.


“Accurate Determination of Genetic Identity for a Single Cacao Bean, Using Molecular Markers with a Nanofluidic System, Ensures Cocoa Authentication”


Click here for the abstract.


*Journalists can request a PDF of the journal article by emailing newsroom@acs.org.


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Here’s an item from this week’s PressPac that we thought you’d enjoy. The PressPac features summaries of articles appearing in our peer-reviewed journals and Chemical & Engineering News. To get the entire PressPac in your inbox, email us at newsroom@acs.org.


Nearly 10 years after the term “nature deficit disorder” entered the nation’s vocabulary, research is showing for the first time that green space does appear to improve mental health in a sustained way. The report, which appears in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology, gives urban park advocates another argument in support of their cause.


Mathew P. White and colleagues note that mental well-being is a major public health issue, with unipolar depressive disorder the leading cause of disability in middle- to high-income countries. Some research suggests that part of the blame for this unhappiness lies in increased urbanization — nearly 80 percent of the world’s population in more developed regions live in city environments, which tend to have little room for nature. Other studies suggest a link between happiness and green space, but no research had convincingly established cause and effect of nature on well-being over time. To help fill that gap, White’s team decided to examine the issue.

 

To figure out if nature makes people feel better in the long run, they compared the mental health of hundreds of people in the U.K. who went from a grey urban setting to a greener one with those who moved in the opposite direction. Mental health data showed that the people who moved to greener areas were happier during all three years that their health was tracked after relocating. “Moving to greener urban areas was associated with sustained mental health improvements, suggesting that environmental policies to increase urban green space may have sustainable public health benefits,” the researchers conclude.

 

The authors acknowledge funding from the Economic and Social Research Council.


"Longitudinal Effects on Mental Health of Moving to Greener and Less Green Urban Areas"


Click here for the abstract.


*Journalists can request a PDF of the journal article by emailing newsroom@acs.org.


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In the quest to shrink motors so they can maneuver in tiny spaces like inside and between human cells, scientists have taken inspiration from millions of years of plant evolution and incorporated, for the first time, corkscrew structures from plants into a new kind of helical “microswimmer.” The low-cost development, which appears in ACS’ journal Nano Letters, could be used on a large scale in targeted drug delivery and other applications.


Joseph Wang and colleagues point out that nanomotors have tremendous potential in diverse applications from delivering drugs to precise locations in the body to making biosensors. To realize this potential, scientists have recently taken inspiration from microorganisms that have tiny, hair-like structures that they whip around to propel themselves. But copying these nature-engineered nanomotors requires advanced instruments and costly processing techniques that make them a challenge to produce on a large scale. To address these issues of practicality, Wang’s group also drew inspiration from nature, but turned to plants instead.


They isolated spiral microstructures packed by the million in small pieces of a plant’s stem. The scientists coated these tiny coils that are about the width of a fine cotton fiber with thin layers of titanium and magnetic nickel. The plant material makes these microswimmers biodegradable and less likely to be rejected by the human body. The magnetic layer allows scientists to control the motors’ movement. When the scientists placed the coated spirals in water or human blood serum and applied a magnetic field, the nanomotors efficiently spun their way through the liquids. The scientists conclude that the microswimmers show great promise for future biomedical uses.


The authors acknowledge funding from the Defense Threat Reduction Agency-Joint Science and Technology Office for Chemical and Biological Defense.

 

“Bioinspired Helical Microswimmers Based on Vascular Plants”


Click here for the abstract.


*Journalists can request a PDF of the journal article by emailing newsroom@acs.org.


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A novel method for extracting titanium, a metal highly valued for its light weight, high strength, corrosion resistance and biocompatibility, could lower its cost and make it more widely accessible, for example, for producing lighter car parts to improve fuel efficiency. The method, which significantly reduces the energy required to separate it from its tightly bound companion, oxygen, appears in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.


Zhigang Zak Fang and colleagues note that while titanium is the fourth most common metal in the Earth’s crust, the high-energy, high-cost method used to extract it prevents its use in broader applications. The metal’s light weight, strength, stability and corrosion resistance earned it valued roles on the Mars Odyssey mission, in wedding rings and in deep-sea submersibles. Titanium also could be used to significantly lighten and strengthen commercial products and materials. But currently, titanium is too expensive for widespread use. The most common technique, called the Kroll process, used to extract the metal from titanium oxide was invented in the 1930s and has undergone slight improvements. But by and large, the method, which requires temperatures over 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit, keeps prices for the metal high. Fang’s team decided to try out a new approach to make titanium more accessible.


The scientists discovered that they could eliminate the energy-intensive steps of the Kroll process. In the lab, they successfully tested a new series of reactions for isolating titanium that halves the temperature requirements of the conventional method and consumes 60 percent less energy.


The authors acknowledge funding from the U.S. Department of Energy.


“A New, Energy-Efficient Chemical Pathway for Extracting Ti Metal From Ti Minerals”


Click here for the abstract.


*Journalists can request a PDF of the journal article by emailing newsroom@acs.org.


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Since insulin’s crucial discovery nearly a century ago, countless diabetes patients have had to inject themselves with the life-saving medicine. Now scientists are reporting a new development toward a long-sought insulin pill that could save millions the pain of daily shots. Published in the ACS journal Biomacromolecules, the advance could someday not only eliminate the “ouch” factor, but also get needle-wary — and weary — patients to take their medicine when they should.


Sanyog Jain and colleagues explain that patients with diabetes sometimes skip doses or stop taking their insulin because the injections can be painful. But doing so puts their health in danger. An estimated 347 million people globally (about 26 million in the U.S.) are living with diabetes. In the U.S., more than a quarter of these patients are taking some kind of insulin therapy. For years, researchers have sought a way to transform delivery of this therapy from a shot to a pill, but it has been a challenge. The body’s digestive enzymes that are so good at breaking down food also break down insulin before it can get to work. In addition, insulin doesn’t get easily absorbed through the gut into the bloodstream. To overcome these hurdles, Jain’s team combined two approaches to shield insulin from the digestive enzymes and then get it into the blood.


They packaged insulin in tiny sacs made of lipids, or fats, called liposomes, which are already used in some treatments. Then, they wrapped the liposomes in layers of protective molecules called polyelectrolytes. To help these “layersomes” get absorbed into the bloodstream, they attached folic acid, a kind of vitamin B that has been shown to help transport liposomes across the intestinal wall into the blood. In rats, the delivery system lowered blood glucose levels almost as much as injected insulin, though the effects of the layersomes lasted longer than that of injected insulin. 


The authors acknowledge funding from the Department of Science & Technology (India) and the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, New Delhi.


"Improved Stability and Antidiabetic Potential of Insulin Containing Folic Acid Functionalized Polymer Stabilized Multilayered Liposomes Following Oral Administration”


Click here for the abstract.


*Journalists can request a PDF of the journal article by emailing newsroom@acs.org.


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Through lotions, shampoos and other personal care products (PCPs), infants and toddlers are likely becoming exposed to potentially harmful substances, called parabens, at an even higher level than adult women in the U.S., researchers have reported. They published their findings on parabens, which have been linked to reproductive and other health issues, in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology.

 

Kurunthachalam Kannan and Ying Guo point out that the substances called phthalates and parabens are used in a wide range of products, from medical devices to children’s toys, as well as PCPs. Phthalates hold in moisture; parabens are used as preservatives. Most people are exposed to them every day — for example, data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests that more than 90 percent of the population is exposed to these substances. The body breaks them down quickly, but both have been detected in urine, breast milk and blood. Research suggests a link between these substances and health issues in animals and people, such as sperm damage, breast cancer and an increased risk for asthma. In previous studies, Kannan’s team found that food and indoor dust contributed to phthalate exposure to varying degrees, but paraben exposure was low. Now it was time for them to look at a third route of possible exposure — the use of PCPs.

 

They collected 170 samples of makeup, lotions, shampoos and other products, including 20 items for babies, and tested them for nine phthalates and six parabens. Both substances were found in PCPs. In baby products, phthalate concentrations were low, but parabens were common. When the researchers calculated possible exposure levels, they estimated that the potential daily skin exposure to parabens by infants and toddlers could be as much as two to three times higher than that for adult women.

 

The authors acknowledge funding from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

 

“A Survey of Phthalates and Parabens in Personal Care Products from the United States and Its Implications for Human Exposure”


Click here for the abstract.


*Journalists can request a PDF of the journal article by emailing newsroom@acs.org.

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For some 5,000 years, cultivated silkworms have been spinning luxurious white silk fibers destined for use in the finest clothing. But current dyeing practices produce wastewater that contains potentially harmful toxins, so scientists are turning to a new, “greener” dyeing method in which they coax already-colored fibers from the caterpillars by feeding them dyed leaves. Their findings are published in the journal ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering.


Anuya Nisal, Kanika Trivedy and colleagues point out that dyeing textile fabrics is one of today’s most polluting industries. The process requires huge quantities of water for bleaching, washing and rinsing, and it results in a stream of harmful wastewater that needs to be treated effectively before release into the environment. To make the industry greener and more environmentally friendly, researchers have been developing less toxic methods, including feeding dyed leaves to silkworms so they spin colored — rather than white — cocoons. But so far, this technique has only been tested with one type of dye, which is too pricey for large-scale production. Thus, the team turned to azo dyes, which are inexpensive and account for more than half of the textile dyes used today.


They dipped or sprayed mulberry leaves, the silkworm’s food of choice, with azo dyes to see which ones, when consumed, would transfer to the silk. Of the seven dyes they tested, three were incorporated into the caterpillars’ silk, and none seemed to affect the worms’ growth. The scientists noticed that certain dye traits, such as the ability to dissolve in water, affected how well the dye worked. “These insights are extremely important in development of novel dye molecules that can be successfully used in this green method of producing colored silk fabrics,” they conclude.


The authors cite funding from the CSIR-National Chemical Laboratory, Pune, and the Central Sericultural Research and Training Institute, Mysore.


"Uptake of Azo Dyes into Silk Glands for Production of Colored Silk Cocoons Using a Green Feeding Approach"


Click here for the abstract.


*Journalists can request a PDF of the journal article by emailing newsroom@acs.org.


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Want to make bread taste pleasantly salty without adding more salt? Change the bread’s texture so it is less dense, say scientists. They report in ACS’ Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry that simply making the pores, or holes, larger can make people perceive bread as having saltier taste. The process could become a new strategy for reducing salt intake, which is a risk factor for high blood pressure and heart disease.

 

Peter Koehler and colleagues explain that every day, people in industrialized countries consume, on average, twice as much salt as the World Health Organization recommends. Much of that salt — 35 percent in the United Kingdom and about 25 percent in Germany — comes from bread, which for millennia has ranked as one of the world’s most ubiquitous foods. Cutting dietary salt would reduce people’s risk for developing high blood pressure, which has been diagnosed in 40 percent of adults aged 25 and older worldwide, and heart disease, which was the cause of 30 percent of all deaths in 2008. But the big question is how to do it in a palatable way. Researchers have tried different methods, such as using salt substitutes, but only to limited effect. Studies on cheese and gels has shown that changing texture can make a product taste salty even if salt content is reduced, so Koehler’s team decided to see if this would work with bread.

 

To alter the texture of bread for the study, they baked bread using different proofing times. Proofing is when a baker lets the dough rise. Longer proofing times lead to softer breads with larger pores. The subjects in the study rated the fluffier bread with the longest proofing time as noticeably more salty, even though each bite actually contained less salt. “Appropriate modification of crumb texture thus leads to enhanced saltiness, suggesting a new strategy for salt reduction in bread,” say the researchers.

 

They acknowledge funding from the Research Association of the German Food Industry (FEI), the AiF and the German Ministry of Economics and Technology.


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Bugs are a big problem. They spread diseases, and people also can develop allergies to them. And, of course, they’re icky.

 

They often are a really huge problem in densely populated, urban, low-income public housing dwellings, where there’s lots of food, clutter, moisture build-up, and cracks and crevices for bugs to crawl through and hide.

 

Families in Boston public housing developments, for instance, rank pest infestation, pesticide use and pest allergies second only to crime as matters of concern.

 

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the world spends about $40 billion a year on pesticides to get rid of the creepy-crawlies. But is this really the answer? Some pesticides contain substances that can be harmful to humans at high levels, not just bugs.

 

Chensheng Lu and colleagues wondered about that. So they studied exposure to 19 pesticides among children in 20 families in Boston’s public housing. They wanted to see whether these children might be exposed to large amounts of pesticides in their everyday lives.

 

They found pesticides in all of the homes, along with indications — such as sighting of live pests or pest debris — that traditional pesticides were not effective. “The results from the current study, as well as other recent studies, conducted in low-income public housing, child care centers and randomly selected homes in the U.S. should accentuate the need for alternative pest management programs,” the report states.

 

So called “integrated pest management” (IPM) measures include less reliance on pesticides and more emphasis on neatness and blocking cracks where insects can enter. It also focuses on minimizing bugs’ access to food and water.

 

What do you think? Could IPM methods really replace pesticides?

 

 

“Household Pesticide Contamination from Indoor Pest Control Applications in Urban Low-Income Public Housing Dwellings: A Community-Based Participatory Research”

 

 

 

*Journalists can request a PDF of the journal article by emailing newsroom@acs.org.

 

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