Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Lycopene Against Cancer


Often diners miss out on the nutritional benefits derivable from tomato, perhaps, due to the common method of handling it – frying the puree. But FABIAN ODUM writes that the use of tomato ketchup provides an alternative, body nourishing ingredient, lycopene, an anti-cancer nutrient. RICH, red tomato and health have things in common. The string linking them is in the anti-cancer ingredient in tomato called lycopene. Lycopene, a carotenoid, is an anti-oxidant that helps the body to war against free radicals that can interfere with normal cell growth and activity, potentially leading to cancer, heart disease and premature ageing Instead of spending money buying anti-oxidants as food supplements, natural sources such as tomatoes could make a lot of difference. Ketchup, the processed and bottled tomato product, appeared in the local market some time ago but for one reason or the other, it failed. For this fact, an opportunity to drive this popular condiment into the menu of Nigerians suffered a serious setback. The product has now resurfaced as imported brands. Although a favorite in American kitchens, recent studies have shown that tomato ketchup (also known as catsup) can be a power tool in the war against cancer and heart disease. The recipe would disclose the inherent attributes that make this food a good item in our menu. BASICALLY, ketchup includes cooked and strained tomato, vinegar, sugar salt, onion or garlic flavour and spices such as cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, ginger and cayenne. The old type ketchup used to be much thicker until the review of the standard in 1991. The Heinz Institute of Nutritional Sciences, a few years ago praised the tomato as a source of lycopene. Scientifically, it is known that one tablespoon of ketchup is just enough to make a bland meal of plain boiled yam come alive in the palate; it contains 16 calories and no fat. ON many meals like rice (jollof, fried or white), beans, dodo (Fried plantain) etc ketchup with its rich flavour derived from cinnamon, ginger, cloves as well as onion and vinegar transforms meals. The eye appeal of the product perhaps makes it a choice condiment for young people in the US. It holds no less attraction on our local dining tables. With regards to the storages of the products, still sealed, it can have a shelf life of one year. However, as usual with NAFDAC requirements and credible regulators the world over, the date of manufacture and expiration are usually indicated. Once opened, it can be stored in a cool environment, out of the sum for about a month. Refrigeration would extend the shelf life beyond one month once it is opened. Signs of fermentation indicate spoilage, change of taste and flavour. Such a product should be discarded. Take note that product will tend to darken due to exposure to direct sunlight. Tin or aluminum foil, as a wrapper for your bottle will take care of discoloration. Nowadays, ‘catsup’ and catchup are acceptable spellings used interchangeably with ‘ketchup’. Incidentally, there are workable recipes for making own ketchup at home as it presents an exciting way to present an it presents an exciting way to “tomato-up” meals at home. WFP Asks For $230M In Emergency Food Aid For Kenyans “The U.N.’s World Food Programme (WFP) last week appealed for more than $230 million to provide emergency food aid over the next six months for 3.8 million Kenyans affected by deepening drought and high food prices,” according to Reuters. The WFP reports that the main maize harvest is projected to be 28 percent below average and that “pasture and water for livestock is dwindling rapidly,” according to VOA news. The agency also says that malnutrition rates are increasing significantly. In some areas, more than 20 per cent of people are malnourished, “which is well above the emergency threshold of 15 per cent,” VOA news writes. Burkard Oberle, WFP Kenya country director, said that at least 260,000 metric tons of food are needed, IRIN reports. WFP is already distributing about 32,000 metric tons of food each month to 2.6 million people. In Kenya, food prices are currently between 100 and 130 per cent above normal, according to WFP spokeswoman Emilia Casella. “This is a country where obviously many people are buying the majority of their food and spending the majority of their salaries on food,” she said. Dealing With High-blood Pressure Nutrition experts at UT Southwestern Medical Center say there’s no better way to lower your blood pressure than by indulging in some of the season’s potassium-rich fruit and vegetables. “Melons like cantaloupe and watermelon are particularly high in potassium,” says a clinical nutrition expert at UT Southwestern and spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association. “One fourth a cantaloupe contains 800 to 900 milligrams of potassium, roughly 20 per cent of the recommended daily value.” Two cups of watermelon contains nearly 10 per cent of the daily-recommended value. The report says dried apricots, avocados, figs, kiwi, oranges, raisins, dates, beans, potatoes, tomatoes and even grapefruit are other good sources of potassium. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends that most adults get 4,044 milligrams of potassium from food and beverages each day. Smoking May Worsen Malnutrition In Developing Nations A new study finds that smokers in rural Indonesia finance their habit by dipping into the family food budget - which ultimately results in poorer nutrition for their children. The findings suggest that the costs of smoking in the developing world go well beyond the immediate health risks, according to authors Steven Block and Patrick Webb of Tufts University. The study is published in the October issue of Economic Development and Cultural Change. “This suggests that 70 percent of the expenditures on tobacco products are financed by a reduction in food expenditures,” the researchers write. That decreased spending on food appears to have real nutritional consequences for children of smokers. The study found that smokers’ children tend to be slightly shorter for their ages than the children of non-smokers. Health researchers often use height as a general barometer for nutrition in children. The poorer nutrition in smoking families comes not only because they buy less food in total, but also because the food they buy tends to be of lower quality. The surveys show that, compared to non-smoking families, families with a smoker spend a larger budget share on rice and a smaller share on meats, fruits and vegetables, which are nutrient-rich, but more expensive. The combination of direct health threats from smoking coupled with the potential loss of food consumption among children linked to tobacco expenditure presents a development challenge of the highest order,” the researchers conclude. Educating AIDS Patients About Food Safety Researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health have received a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to educate AIDS patients on food safety. The three-year, $600,000 award will be used to develop a better way to disseminate information to AIDS patients who are at high risk of developing infections from the foods they eat. Nearly half a million people in the United States are living with AIDS, and the number is increasing. AIDS patients whose immune systems have been severely suppressed by the HIV virus to a T-cell count below 200 cells per micro-litre are at risk of developing life-threatening infections from food-borne illnesses. In addition to their compromised immune systems, people with AIDS may have low stomach acid, which is the first barrier against germs, said Dr. Mark Dworkin, UIC associate professor of epidemiology and principal investigator of the study. Stomach acid normally kills most of the germs that enter the body through the mouth. For example, such patients can become infected with salmonella bacteria from eating fresh fruits and vegetables that are not washed properly.

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