Olive oil maintains antioxidant properties even when cooked according to study

The fact that extra virgin olive oil is in many ways positive for health is proven by various studies, but very often these studies have taken into account the extra virgin olive oil used in raw form. Can the same thing be said about cooked extra virgin olive oil?
This is the question asked by researchers at the University of Barcelona who, with the help of colleagues from other institutions, published their findings in a study published in Antioxidants.

The answer is positive: olive oil maintains, although at a slightly lower level, its antioxidant characteristics even when cooked.
This oil is one of the main sources of fat in the Mediterranean diet. Its main characteristic lies in its unique composition relative to fatty acids and its relatively high content of antioxidant elements compared to other types of oil.

Among the best known antioxidant elements of olive oil are certainly polyphenols. As the authors of the same research specify, the effects of cooking on the polyphenols of olive oil have already been studied in the past but mostly “industrial” situations have been recreated, far from the reality and habits that can be found inside our homes.

In this study, unlike the others, the researchers have in fact simulated the cooking conditions of a normal domestic kitchen.
Specifically, they studied the effects of cooking time and temperature levels, from 120 to 170°, in relation to the degradation of antioxidants.

During cooking, the levels of polyphenols decreased by 40% at 120° and 75% at 170°, compared to the levels of raw oil.
The same cooking then seemed to have effects on individual phenols, including hydroxytyrosol, but not on the total phenol content.

In general, even after cooking, the level of antioxidants exceeded the parameters declared as “healthy” by the European Union. Basically, cooked olive oil, like the one that can be used during frying, continues to have properties, although at a somewhat lower level, of protecting the oxidation of LDL cholesterol particles, as Julián Lozano, the first author of the study, explains.

Physicists discover new electronic phenomenon in 2D stacked materials

We speak of “new state of matter” in relation to the discovery made by a group of physicists at Northeastern University. They discovered a new way of manipulating electrical charge, a discovery that could lead to “monumental” changes in future technology.

In the press release presenting the study, Swastik Kar, a physics professor who contributed to the discovery that only the imagination could represent a limit to the possible exploitation of such phenomena: “It could change the way we are able to detect and communicate signals. It could change the way we can perceive things and memorize information, and other possibilities we may not yet have thought about.”

In the study, published in Nanoscale, researchers describe new ways to distribute electrons evenly in a stationary, crystalline model. It is a completely new electronic phenomenon, “a new phase of matter”, as Kar himself calls it.
The researchers made the discovery working on crystalline materials of very few atoms of thickness, materials that are usually called “2D” (although, of course, they also have three dimensions).
In such materials electrons can only move in two dimensions because they are literally trapped in an endless chessboard pattern.

Analyzing two of these materials one superimposed on the other, bismuth selenide and a dichalcogenide of metal in transition, the researchers found that the electrons, instead of moving away from other negatively charged things, formed a stationary pattern, “a perfectly repeatable range of pure electronic puddles that resides between the two layers”, as Kar describes it.
These are phenomena that had already been observed before but only at extremely low temperatures, unlike the experiment carried out by Kar during which the phenomenon occurred at room temperature.

The understanding of the phenomenon itself is still in its infancy but researchers believe that it can be exploited in electronics, detection systems and information processing.

Eating fruit during pregnancy promotes better cognitive development of children

Eating fruit is also important during pregnancy, according to a study conducted by researchers at the University of Alberta, according to which pregnant women who eat more fruit are more likely to improve the cognitive development of children up to a year after birth.

The discovery had already been made by a previous study, as explained by Claire Scavuzzo, one of the authors of the study, but these results had not been able to establish that it was the consumption of fruit, instead of other factors, to cause net improvements in cognition of children.
In this new study, the researchers confirm that it is precisely the intake of fruit that regulates improvements in children’s cognition.

To confirm this, Scavuzzo and colleagues carried out experiments on rats: those born to mothers whose diet had been supplemented with fruit juice obtained much better results in memory tests.
These results are in line with those of the previous study carried out on humans and with other similar studies carried out on fruit flies.

“We consider this information particularly useful for pregnant mothers, as it offers a non-pharmacological dietary intervention to promote the development of the child’s brain,” says the researcher.

This study is one of many that in recent years are showing the impact on the mental health of unborn children and babies even months after birth caused by the levels and nutritional quality of the mother during pregnancy, as suggested by Rachel Ward-Flanagan, another author of the study.
Rachel Ward-Flanagan, another author of the study, clearly states that a fruit-enriched diet carried out by women during pregnancy is one of the most efficient ways for children to start their lives in the best possible way.
The study was published in PLOS ONE.

Microalgae as food and biomass: huge potential in Malaysia

Microalgae that can be used as food for humans? Researcher Foo Su Chern from the Monash University School of Science of Malaysia’s Monash University is thinking about it. She is studying these particular monocellular organisms that can convert carbon dioxide and sunlight into biochemical products and produce oxygen as a by-product.

More than 100,000 species of microalgae have been classified to those of interest to the researcher are perhaps those that have yet to be discovered. Microalgae are already used in some nutraceutical food supplements and the properties of many species that could be of benefit to human health, but also to animal health, are certainly of interest.
Interest could increase even more with ongoing climate change as the microalgae themselves could be used to reduce carbon in the air.

Microalgae, as Foo herself explains, can grow in freshwater or seawater bodies, are characterized by high yield and, compared to other crops, are characterized by a much lower carbon release.
This means that the cultivation of microalgae itself would be much more sustainable than any other crop. They can be grown anywhere, even in closed areas, and are especially suitable in those tropical regions where there is sunshine almost all year round.

This is precisely why Malaysia could have great potential for microalgae cultivation. These could, for example, be grown as an alternative biomass to supplement palm oil, which is already widely consumed in the country, not to mention its possible use in animal feed.
This is precisely why Foo and his team are now analysing those microalgae species that are more efficient at capturing carbon and converting it into useful biochemical products, including food for humans. The team has already developed a bioreactor to produce monocultural microalgae with over 80% purity.

“We hope to gain more research opportunities and promote microalgae as a sustainable resource in the context of Southeast Asia. We need to understand that microalgae are very useful. My ultimate goal is to make microalgae more accessible to the public, so I hope to solve bottlenecks in this growing area,” says the researcher.

Discovered new sense of dogs: they detect heat through the nose

It’s a kind of “new meaning” discovered in the noses of dogs by a research team at the University of Colorado at Boulder. It is a “fascinating discovery”, as ethologist Marc Bekoff, a canine sniffing expert not involved in the study, describes it.
According to the researchers, in fact, dogs with their noses can not only sniff but also perceive mammalian body heat levels without a direct touch and therefore at a certain distance.

This is not a unique ability in absolute: that of perceiving radiant heat from living beings is a characteristic also present in some beetles, in some species of snakes and in a mammal species, the vampire bat.
Researchers have in fact discovered that the rhinaria of dogs, the naked and smooth area on the tip of the nose around the nostrils, is humid, colder than room temperature and very rich in nerves.

Precisely on the basis of these characteristics, the researchers immediately thought that dogs’ noses could not only detect the sense of smell but also heat. In order to obtain confirmation, they performed experiments on three pet dogs who had to choose a particular warm object and one at room temperature. The researchers positioned the objects at a distance of 1.6 metres.
All three dogs detected the objects emitting heat radiation with a certain level of success.

At this point, the researchers scanned the brains of other dogs of various breeds using functional MRI scans when they presented the dogs with objects that emit heat radiation or objects that did not.
Dogs were much more sensitive to hot thermal stimulation than neutral objects that did not emit any reaction.

These experiments therefore confirm that dogs can perceive heat through the nose, something that probably triggers a particular region of the brain. The dogs themselves probably inherited this ability from their direct ancestor, the grey wolf, who can sniff out hot bodies during hunting.
The study was published in Scientific Reports.

Eni: oil and gas production will peak in 2025

Eni, the leading Italian company in the energy sector, predicts that oil and gas production could reach its peak within six years, according to an article published on the Bloomberg website.

Oil and gas production is expected to grow at an annual rate of 3.5% until 2025, when, according to Eni, it will settle at a constant level and then continue with a slow decline in production, especially of oil.
The aim is to cut net emissions by as much as 80% by 2050. Also by 2050, gas will represent 85% of total production for the company, which will happen in parallel with strong increases in the renewable energy sector with over 55 gigawatts of installed capacity already around 2050.

The company itself claims to have designed a strategy “that combines economic sustainability with environmental sustainability”, according to Claudio Descalzi, CEO of the company.
Eni plans to reach a zero emissions level for exploration and production operations already by 2030.

These plans will most likely need considerable expansion in the renewable energy sector and also in the carbon capture and storage technology sector.

Scientists discover that “underwater” beetle larvae are massacring tadpoles

The discovery of groups of beetles capable of exterminating thousands of tadpoles has been made almost by chance. The discovery was made by ecologist Jose Valdez who, together with his team, attempted to repopulate a frog conservation site in Newcastle, Australia. The researchers had thought to fence the area to keep out the predator snakes but had not calculated the possible arrival of perhaps even more deadly but at the same time much smaller predators: the Hydaticus parallelus, “underwater” beetles which attack in groups.

They use tactics of encirclement and attack so refined that out of 10,000 tadpoles introduced in the site, three years later only a handful of frogs remained. The case of predators that are much smaller than their prey is quite rare in the wild, just as it is unusual to see insects like beetles hunting in packs.

On nighttime stakeouts, Valdez and colleagues have noticed the tactics these insects use to surround a tadpole and tear it apart in the shortest possible time, tactics so refined that Valdez himself claims to have been shocked. In addition to attacking the tadpoles, these “diving” beetles lay their eggs inside the Lechriodus fletcheri frog eggs. The insects’ eggs usually hatch within 24 hours of hatching the frog’s eggs.

This way when the insects’ eggs hatch they can then easily attack the tadpoles as soon as they are born. Researchers have noticed that only beetle larvae were capable of killing up to three tadpoles every hour, often leaving their prey only half-eaten by another neighbor.

The gene of “laziness” has been identified in mice

A gene related to physical inactivity in mice has been discovered by researchers at the University of Missuori. This discovery could be useful to develop new methods to counteract sedentary behavior even in humans.

As is well known, regular physical activity is essential for a good level of health and sedentariness is one of the main characteristics that can trigger certain diseases. It is not the first research to show that genes can play a role in physical inactivity but no particular gene has ever been identified.

Frank Booth, a professor at the MU College of Veterinary Medicine, was able to discover, together with colleagues, the Alpha gene inhibitor of protein kinase, a genus that according to the same researchers “plays a significant role” in the context of physical inactivity.

Experiments have been carried out on several dozen mice. Over the past 10 years, the researcher has selected cats by dividing them into those that ran more or ran less on wheels. After obtaining a sufficient level of selection between active and “lazy” mice, the researcher checked for any differences in their genetic composition and found that the Alpha protein kinase inhibitor gene was much less present in lazy rats.

Most likely there are other genes involved but these results may pave the way for future research to identify all genes involved in physical inactivity in humans as well. Once identified, therapies could be developed to prevent the occurrence of diseases even before they develop.

Links/Sources:

https://munews.missouri.edu/news-releases/2019/0905-is-laziness-a-choice-or-genetic-trait/

https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s12035-018-1171-0

Study proposes a tax on sugary snacks

After the good results achieved by the taxes applied to sweetened beverages in various parts of the world, a research group proposes the same type of taxation for snacks with high sugar content.

According to the researchers, who published their study in the British Medical Journal, in order to combat the growing obesity among the population, it is necessary to seriously consider, subjecting it to further research, the possibility of increasing the prices of this type of snack.

In fact, according to the same researchers, this new tax could achieve even better results than that applied to sweetened beverages. The fact is that obesity is proving to be a sort of “pandemic”: it is increasing not only in the richest countries but in most regions of the world. And this leads to various problems, including economic ones, considering the costs that society often has to bear for the treatment of all diseases related to obesity.

To contribute to the same obesity, child and not, are also the large quantities of sugar present in the various “snacks”, biscuits, candies, chocolates, and so on and so forth. Supermarket shelves are increasingly full of such products.

In the course of the study, researchers used economic modeling and assessed the impact of a 20% increase in UK prices for sugar-rich snacks. The modeling was based on data from 36,324 UK households and 2544 adults in a national study.

Of course, other factors such as household income, body mass index, etc. were also taken into account by the researchers. The models show that a 20% tax in all households in each income bracket would result in a decrease in consumption of these products for an average annual loss of 8900 calories and an average weight loss of around 1 pound per year.

Links/Sources:

https://www.bmj.com/content/366/bmj.l4786

https://www.bmj.com/content/366/bmj.l5298

Student locates new armored archosaur that lived 200 million years ago

A new species of reptilian, which lived in the late Triassic period, about 200 million years ago, has been recognized as being classified by a student of the University of Bristol. The student, Erin Patrick, has analyzed two fossil fragments preserved, among other things, for several decades, in the shelves of the Museum of Natural History in London.

Helped by researchers Mike Benton and David Whiteside of the School of Earth Sciences in Bristol, she classified the Aenigmaspina pantyffynnonensis: the first term refers to a particular characteristic of the vertebrae, the second refers to the quarry of Pant-y-ffynnon in South Wales, where the findings were found.

The Aenigmaspina pantyffynnonensis was an armored creature, an archosaur of the group of crurotarsi very similar to the Erpetosuchus, another late triassic reptile whose remains were found in the past in Scotland and the eastern United States, as specified by Professor Benton. The pantyffynnonensis lived on a small limestone island that was part of a subtropical archipelago.

The fossil remains are represented by two blocks of rock showing various forms of small bones including vertebrae, ribs, a scapula and the shape of what researchers have classified as a kind of armor. The researchers analyzed all the details through magnification and recreated the body of the animal in a three-dimensional way.

The Aenigmaspina pantyffynnonensis is the fourth of the new species identified thanks to the remains found in the quarry of Pant-yffynnon. Among those already identified, there are also the crocodileomorph Terrestrisuchus and the dinosaur sauropodomorph Pantydraco.

Links/Sources:

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/02724634.2019.1645147