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Benefits of dried longan fruit

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Introduction

Longan fruit is a tropical fruit mainly produced in several Southeastern Asian countries. These fruits are well known for their juicy aromatic sweet taste with light reddish brown peel and white translucent flesh (1) containing one single black seed. Longan fruits closely resemble the common fruit Lychee both in terms of taste and appearance (2). This article is about the benefits of dried longan fruit.

Importance of longan fruits in traditional medicine

The longan fruits are known as a tonic herb of the blood deficiency category. They are warm in nature thus helping in slowing down the acute reactions and detoxifying the body. In Chinese tradition, these fruits are used to purify the blood calm the body, and relieve mental fatigue (3).

Benefits of Longan fruit 

Fruits of longan are rich in vitamins like B1, B2, B3 and C. Minerals like phosphorus, potassium, and adenine are also there in these fruits.  Along with this longans are rich in dietary fiber, carbohydrates, proteins, and amino acids (2).

The health benefits of longan fruits are good for the skin, reduces wrinkle thus effects positively aging, anti-anxiety, treats insomnia, can be used as a blood tonic, and immune booster, prevent chronic diseases, helps in digestion, and improves memory, and vision, and healing (7).

Nutritional facts of longan fruit per 100 grams

Vitamins Thiamine (B1) 0.031 mg
  Riboflavin (B2) 0.14 mg
  Niacin 0.3 mg
  Vitamin C 84 mg
Minerals Calcium 1 mg
  Iron 0.13 mg
  Magnesium 10 mg
  Manganese 0.052 mg
  Phosphorus 21 mg
  Potassium 266 mg
  Zinc 0.05 mg
Protein Threonine, Isoleucine, Leucine, Lysine, Methionine, Phenylalanine, Tyrosine, Valine, Arginine, Histidine, Alanine, Aspartic acid, Glutamic acid, Glycine, Proline, Serine 1.31 g
Fat   0.1 g
Energy   60 kcal
Carbohydrates   15.14 g
Dietary fiber   1.1 g

Benefits of dried longan fruit

1. Immune-modulatory function

Dried longan fruits have immunomodulatory properties (3). This helps in boosting the immune system of the body by modulating or controlling immunostimulators or decreasing (immunosuppressives) the production of serum antibodies (4).

2. Treats insomnia

Scientists revealed that the dried fruits of longan help in promoting blood metabolism thus soothing the nerves and ultimately relieving insomnia and inducing sleep (5).

3. Reduces anxiety

The dried fruits of lignan also help in reducing anxiety by helping in relaxing the nervous system of the body (6)

Effect of drying the Longan fruits

Drying longan fruits increases their longevity and can be stored for long periods. Drying may change the composition of the fruits as some components decrease and some increase. 

After drying the longan fruits the amounts of ketones and alcohols decreased whereas furans and esters increased. Natural furans have anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial activities (7).

Along with this the total amount of volatile compounds also decreases on drying longan fruits. The amount of total reducing sugars and total free amino acids also decreases after drying (8).

Side effects 

1. Gastriintestinal distress

Along with health benefits, there are some negative effects or side effects of dried logan too like too much dried logan may result in gastrointestinal distress.

2. Avoid during pregnancy

Too much eating longan fruit may cause complications in pregnancy (9).

3. Sugar content

Some products of dried longan also have additional sugar coating. Hence person having diabetes should check the ingredients before buying.

Do Mushrooms have fiber?

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Introduction

Do mushrooms have fiber, well yes it does in moderate amounts along with various nutrients. Mushrooms are fungi. Most varieties are edible and add a distinct taste to various dishes. Mushrooms contain B vitamins ( B2, B3, B5, folate, niacin), and vitamin D. It contains minerals like potassium, copper, phosphorous, iron, and selenium. They are high in protein content and low in fat content. Mushrooms are rich sources of antioxidants. Thus it helps protect the body from harmful radicals. In this article, we will know in detail about mushrooms.

Understanding dietary fiber

Dietary fibers are edible parts of plants or analogous carbohydrates. These carbohydrates are cellulose, pectin, and hemicelluloses. By nature, they are nonstarch polysaccharides. These resist digestion and absorption by the small intestine and are fermented in the large intestine. There are two types of dietary fibers:

1. Soluble fiber

Which dissolves in water forming a gel-type substance. It is referred to as soft fiber. 

2. Insoluble fiber

This holds onto water. It provides bulk to stool and is referred to as roughage. It promotes bowel regularity and decreases constipation.

Dietary fibers help in the adsorption of organic molecules like bile acids, carcinogens, and neutral sterols. It facilitates their fecal excretion.

Mushrooms are a potential source of Dietary fiber

The glucan presents all the characteristics of dietary fiber, they are indigestible by gastrointestinal enzymes. Though an underrated and underutilized food, in recent years these dietary fibers have drawn a lot of attention. The glucans have immunomodulatory and anticarcinogenic properties. It has many nutritional benefits and promotes a healthy gut microbiome and cognition power (reduces the risk of dementia).

Types of fiber found in mushrooms

  • Mushroom is the fruit of the fungus. It has got two parts, the cap and the stem. The cap and the stem have different levels of dietary fiber. In some varieties of mushrooms, beta-glucans are higher in stem (stipe) than in pileus (cap).
  •  Among the carbohydrates, dietary fiber is the main component of the mushrooms. It constitutes about 18 to 50% of its dry weight
  •  Dietary fibers in mushrooms are constituted mainly of water-insoluble ones. They are chitin, beta-glucans, and mannans. Beta–d- glucans is the most common polysaccharide found in the cell walls of mushrooms.
  • The level of water-soluble dietary fibers is less than 10 % of the dry weight. They are trehalose, mannitol, glycogen, and glucose.
  •   The polysaccharide (beta-glucans) is a unique structure. It differs markedly from the cellulosic components of the plant cell.

Health benefits of Dietary fiber in Mushrooms

1. Promoting digestive health with mushroom fiber

The water-insoluble dietary fibers add bulk to stool and prevent constipation. The water-soluble dietary fibers help improve digestion and support gut health. It acts as a prebiotic ( a food for beneficial gut bacteria). The dietary fibers can stimulate the growth of beneficial strains of bacteria like lactobacillus, and bifidobacterium. These prevent the chances of colon cancer and IBS.

2. Fiber and weight management

Dietary fibers delay gastric emptying. Dietary fibers in mushroom delays absorption in the small intestine. This provides a feeling of fullness and helps avoid overconsumption of calories.

3. Blood sugar regulation

The dietary fiber beta glucans slow down carbohydrate digestion and absorption. It helps to prevent diabetes by improving glycemic control and glucose tolerance. Thus it increases insulin sensitivity.

4. Heart health

High levels of cholesterol can cause fatty deposits in blood vessels. This can stop blood flow to the heart.  The dietary fiber beta-glucan has a hypolipidemic effect. It binds to bile acids and cholesterol increasing their faecal excretion. Thus it decreases plasma and tissue cholesterol levels. This is how it prevents cardiovascular diseases.

Cooking and preserving fiber in mushrooms

Mushrooms are cooked by boiling, frying, and grilling.  These cooking methods tend to vary the composition of fiber content in different types of mushrooms. Dietary fibers are lost if mushrooms are fried. Boiling improves the dietary fiber content. So proper selection of cooking methods is necessary to preserve the benefits of fibers.

 Incorporating Mushrooms into a fiber-rich diet

Should be taken regularly (about 45 gms). Dishes like soups, salads, and sandwiches can have mushrooms. All the meat preparations can be substituted with mushrooms because of their good protein content as well as dietary fibers.  Mushrooms can also be added to extrusion snacks (pasta, noodles) made from refined or starchy carbohydrates.

Q&A

1. Are mushrooms good source of fiber?

Yes, mushrooms are a very good source of fiber.

2. Are mushrooms fiber free?

No, the fibers occur naturally in the cell wall of the mushrooms. A mushroom is not a plant or animal product. So it is not fiber-free.

3. Is mushroom a carbohydrate or a fiber?

Mushroom is a fiber.

4. Are mushrooms fiber or protein?

Mushrooms are fibers.

Summary  

  • Do mushrooms have fiber, yes it has a rich content of dietary fiber in their cell wall.
  • These are types of polysaccharides namely chitin and beta glucanes. 
  • Cellulose a plant derivative is distinctly different from these fibers.
  • The polysaccharides present in mushrooms provide all the nutritional characteristics of dietary fiber.
  • Mushrooms contain B vitamins ( B2, B3, B5, folate, niacin), and vitamin D . It contains minerals like potassium, phosphorous, iron, and selenium. They are high in protein content and very low in fat content. Mushrooms are rich sources of antioxidants.
  • Mushrooms are potential sources of dietary fibers though underrated and not fully utilized. The content of dietary fibers varies from species to species and also in the cap and stem parts.
  • The dietary fibers in mushrooms have numerous health benefits like weight management, diabetes control, and promoting healthy gut bacteria.
  • Care should be taken to preserve the fiber content in mushrooms. It should be incorporated into our daily dishes adequately.

 

CONCLUSION –  Mushrooms are a rich source of dietary fiber. It is a fungus and not a plant or animal product. Most species are edible and have numerous health benefits. 

Reference

Fungal cell wall – Structure, synthesis, and assembly by J.r. Herrera

Written By: Ahana Mitra

All about lovage seeds

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Introduction

Lovage is a plant belonging to the carrot family and is not eaten often as a vegetable. The scientific name is Levisticum officinale Koch of the family Apiaceae. This plant is well known for its aromatic pungent smell and also because of the essential oil. The plant tastes like celery and is of Mediterranean origin the name Love-ache is Italian which means love parsley (1). We are going to explore the advantages of lovage seeds and how they can be used in diet and daily life.

About Lovage plant

It is a perennial herb plant that grows up to 2 meters in height and has bright green leaves and small yellow umbrella-like flowers that occur in clusters. Both the leaves and roots of lovage plants are used in culinary dishes. The seeds of the plants are used to extract essential oils and also have a huge array of benefits. Lovage seeds have a flavor that is similar to fennel (2).

Nutritional profile of Lovage seeds

These seeds are packed with various nutrients that make them a valuable addition to your diet (4).

1. Essential Oils

Lovage seeds contain essential oils, including limonene, eugenol, and phthalides, which contribute to their distinct flavor and therapeutic properties (3).

2. Fiber

These seeds are a good source of dietary fiber, which aids in digestion and promotes a healthy gut.

3. Vitamins and Minerals

It contains essential vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C, vitamin A, potassium, and calcium.

4. Phytonutrients

The seeds are rich in phytonutrients, such as flavonoids and coumarins, which have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

Health Benefits of Lovage Seeds

1. Digestive Aid

They have long been used as a digestive tonic. They can help alleviate bloating, indigestion, and other gastrointestinal discomforts.

2. Anti-Inflammatory Properties

The phytonutrients in lovage seeds possess anti-inflammatory properties that may aid in managing conditions like arthritis.

3. Respiratory Health

Seeds of this plants are used in traditional medicine for their potential to relieve respiratory issues such as coughs and bronchitis.

4. Antioxidant Action

The flavonoids in lovage seeds act as antioxidants, helping to combat oxidative stress and protect cells from damage caused by free radicals.

5. Aid for Menstrual Issues

Lovage seeds have been traditionally used to alleviate menstrual cramps and discomfort.

How to Use Lovage Seeds

Can be utilized in various ways:

Culinary Delight

Lovage seeds have a warm, earthy, and slightly spicy flavor. They can be added to soups, stews, and pickles for an extra layer of taste.

Tea

Crush the seeds and steep them in hot water to create a soothing herbal tea. This can help with digestive issues and provide warmth during cold seasons.

Spice Blends

Ground seeds can be included in spice blends and used as a seasoning for meats, vegetables, or salad dressings.

Oil Infusion

Infuse lovage seeds in olive oil to create a flavorful and aromatic condiment for various dishes.

Side effects

While lovage seeds offer numerous health benefits, it’s important to use them in moderation.

Allergic reaction

Some individuals may be sensitive to the essential oils present in these seeds, so it’s advisable to start with small amounts and monitor for any adverse reactions.

Not suitable during pregnancy

Pregnant and nursing women should consult a healthcare professional before incorporating it into their diet (5).

In conclusion, lovage seeds, often overshadowed by other herbs and spices, are a treasure trove of health benefits and culinary delights. Whether you use them to add flavor to your meals, create herbal remedies, or promote digestive health, these seeds are a versatile and valuable addition to your kitchen and wellness repertoire.

Green tea with less caffeine

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Introduction

What comes to your mind when you think about green tea? Well, the first thing that comes to mind is that it’s refreshing, healthy, and aids in weight loss. But alongside these health benefits, the second thing that comes to mind is caffeine. This then raises a series of questions like should we drink green tea? and if so, how much? And which green tea has less caffeine?

Hence in this article, we are going to explore the world of green tea with caffeine and its different benefits and how to get a proper tea for your taste and for a good experience.

What is caffeine

Well, caffeine is the natural component of tea leaves hence there is no green tea in this world which is having no caffeine. For a detailed understanding of caffeine benefits and its side effects can visit one of my articles titled “Green tea caffeine: Benefits & Side Effects ”. Green tea is far better than black tea and coffee as it contains relatively less caffeine.

The process of production of green tea is different and they are not created equal in terms of caffeine content. Variations arise due to factors like tea type, processing and brewing methods.

Types of Green tea with less caffeine

1. Matcha green tea

Matcha green tea

Matcha or powdered green tea is a popular Japanese tea and is consumed worldwide because of its high antioxidant and energy-boosting abilities.

This green tea is a type of green tea made of powdered leaves traditionally used in Japan for ceremonial purposes. The main difference between green tea and matcha tea is that green tea is prepared by brewing the leaves in hot water but in matcha tea, the leaves are also consumed.

Production of this tea includes shading the tea plants for several weeks before harvesting. This boosts the chlorophyll content of the leaves which gives the matcha a distinctive green colour. After harvesting they are steamed, dried and ground into fine powder. Please read the article “Matcha Green Tea Health Benefits & Side Effects”.

2. Sencha tea

Sencha tea less caffeine

Another example of fine tea from Japan also known as roasted tea which is having moderate caffeine content. The main step involved in sencha tea preparation is harvesting the first flush leaves also known as sencha.

Sencha

Then their tender leaves are quickly stemmed to trap the green colour and stop further oxidation. After the steaming process, these are further rolled to shape them into their characteristics needle-like form. Then dry to remove excess moisture.

3. Bancha Tea

Bancha Tea

Bancha tea is another Japanese tea also known as common tea or coarse tea is a tea with low caffeine content. This tea is made from mature tea leaves and thus is lighter in both flavour and caffeine. The method of preparation of this tea is almost the same as above like the Sencha tea but instead of taking young leaves here mature leaves are harvested, steamed, rolled and dried.

Bancha green tea less caffeine

Bancha tea is good as they are rich in antioxidant, low in. caffeine and good for digestion and hydration of the body.

4. Hojicha tea

Hojicha

This Japanese tea is also known as roasted tea. Half the method of preparation is the same as the sencha tea but the defining step in this tea is roasting at a high temperature which gives this tea the characteristic reddish brown colour with a toasty and nutty caramelized flavour.

Therefore the steps for the preparation of this tea are

Harvesting generally low-grade leaves are selected that are coarse and larger in size. Steaming and rolling are done followed by harvesting thereafter the signature step of roasting at high temperature then cooling and packaging.

Again here the process of roasting reduces the caffeine content of the tea and thus is suitable for all ages.

Hojicha tea

Hojicha tea is low in caffeine, good for digestion and rich in antioxidants.

5. Kukicha tea

Kukicha

Also known as twig tea is a type of Japanese tea. It is also low in caffeine and has a slightly sweet taste.

The Kikucha is mainly prepared from stems, stalks and twigs that are often the byproducts of tea production.

The Kikucha production process involves the harvesting of the stalks, twigs and stems and then steaming to stop further oxidation followed by drying and then blending and packaging.

Kukicha tea

Just like the other teas, Kikucha is also good for digestion, low in caffeine and high in antioxidant content.

Brewing tips for low-caffeine green tea

By following simple steps you can enjoy a sip of green tea with less caffeine content. These are

1. Temperature of the water

High temperature extracts more caffeine from the tea hence to avoid over-extraction of caffeine try to keep the temperature of the water below 175 °F or 80 °C.

2. Steeping time

By reducing the steeping time you can easily reduce the over-extraction of caffeine into your tea. Keep the steeping time usually under 1-2 mins.

Besides these always opt for high-quality tea to extract or enjoy the best flavour. Try to adjust the steeping time and water temperature according to your taste and the aroma and flavour you need.

Polysaccharides in starch and their significance

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Introduction

Starch is an essential and ubiquitous carbohydrate present in most of the food. Its complex nature, composed of intricate polysaccharides, serves as a cornerstone in our understanding of energy storage and plant biology. The following article is about polysaccharides in starch and their significance

Starch and its role as a carbohydrate in human life

Starch is a form of polysaccharide that is largely present in the plant kingdom. The most common sources are cereals, grains, potatoes, carrots, millet, and legumes. Carbohydrates are also known as saccharides as sugars are the main component. 

Carbohydrates are one of the compounds largely present in nature. They perform the functions of storage and energy production and act as one of the membrane constituents.

Polysaccharides in starch and their importance

When hydrolyzed, polysaccharides possess twelve molecules of monosaccharide units. 

The molecular formula is (C6 H10 O5 )n. 

Polysaccharides are classified into two types

1. Homopolysaccharides

  • Polymers with similar monosaccharide units. They are glucose units. 
  • Homopolysaccharides are named after monosaccharide units. For example: Glucan consists of glucose units. 

2. Heteropolysaccharides

Polymers of different monosaccharide units or their derivatives like mucopolysaccharides

Starch

Basic composition of starch

The basic composition of starch is glucose. It is composed of two units, namely amylase and amylopectin. 

Sugars, animal starch, plant starch, and cellulose are the commonly known carbohydrates. Starch and glycogen are called macromolecules. 

Importance and availability of starch as plant-based food

The carbohydrates are formed by the green cells of algae, plants, and many protists. The latter utilizes water and carbon dioxide in the presence of solar light to form sugar and molecular oxygen. 

Animals, fungi, and many bacteria including protists get carbohydrates from plants. Hence, all organisms depend on nutrition in photosynthesis which is considered the source of food production. 

Amylose

Structure

The structure of amylose is a long helical-coiled unbranched chain of glucose molecules connected by alpha,1-4  linkage. The molecular weight of amylase is between 10,000 and 1,00,000. Amylose reacts with iodine to produce a deep blue color. 

  • Amylose has a low molecular weight (~10^6 ) polymers. 
  • It possesses maltose as a repeating unit. 
  • It is formed due to (1—> 4)-alpha-D linkage. 
  • The shape of amylose varies from helical to coiled tube shape. 
  • It is semi-crystalline in nature. 
  • Molecular interaction results in a deep blue coloration when reacted with Iodine. 

Amylopectin 

Amylopectin is insoluble in water. The molecular weight of amylopectin varies from 50,000 to 10,00,000. Amylopectin is composed of branched chains of glucose and joined by alpha, 1-6 linkages. 

Branching occurs through a (1 → 6) linkage between two glucose units of neighboring chains. The branching occurs at 25–30 a-D-glucose units. Amylopectin reacts with iodine and gives a violet color.

  • Amylopectin is a comparatively larger polymer than amylose. 
  • Branching of (1→6 ) linkage reoccurs every ten maltose units. 
  • Amylopectin possesses both the polymers of maltose and isomaltose. 
  • It is globular-shaped. 
  • It is non-crystalline in nature. 

Properties of starch

  • Starch comprises two polymeric substances namely amylose (20%) and amylopectin (80%).
  • Starch is a polysaccharide obtained from plants that is present naturally and is considered the main source of carbohydrates, hence adding fuel to the human diet.
  • Carbohydrate polymers, like glycogen and starch, are energy-storage materials.
  • They are produced by the higher plants and are stored in the form of granules in the roots, tubers, and rhizomes as energy reserves.
  • Most of the starch production is done from maize and alternative sources include potatoes and bananas. 
  • Levoglucosan is a high-quality starch produced by the pyrolysation of potato starch. 
  • Waxy starch is an example of amylose-free starch, produced through engineering techniques. 

Influence on starch solubility 

The starch solubility is determined by a number of factors

  • Amylose is a linear polysaccharide and its presence affects the starch solubility in water. 
  • The degree of granule particles is directly proportional to their solubility. Smaller and broken particles tend to be more soluble.
  • Factors like pH levels and temperature play an important role in determining starch solubility.
  • Higher temperatures increase the solubility whereas lower pH levels tend to decrease the starch solubility.

Digestion of Starch

Digestion of starch begins in the buccal cavity by the action of amylase, produced by the salivary glands. It breaks glucose molecules into maltose and other simple sugars. The half-digested starch passes into the stomach, is further broken down by HCL and pepsinogen. 

Pancreatic enzymes in the small intestines break down glucose molecules to form monosaccharides that are absorbed through intestinal walls. 

The remaining undigested material goes through the large intestine where bacteria start fermenting before elimination through the body. 

Interesting facts

  • Levoglucosan is a high-quality starch produced by the pyrolysation of potato starch. 
  • Amylose is a long helical-coiled unbranched chain of glucose molecules connected by alpha,1-4  linkage.
  • Amylopectin is composed of branched chains of glucose and joined by alpha, 1-6 linkages.
  • Amylopectin reacts with iodine and gives a violet color whereas amylose gives a deep blue color.

Difference between Amylose and Amylopectin

Basis Of

Amylose

Amylopectin

Definition Amylose is a long helical-coiled unbranched chain of glucose molecules connected by alpha,1-4  linkage.  Amylopectin is composed of branched chains of glucose and joined by alpha, 1-4 linkages. 
Starch Constitution 20% 80%
Glycosidic Linkages 1-4 glycosidic linkages 1-6 glycosidic linkages
Hydrolyzation Amylose is hydrolyzed to Beta-galactosidase.  It cannot be completely hydrolyzed. 
Reaction with Iodine Deep-blue coloration Violet coloration
Hot Water Test No reaction Gel formation when reacted with hot water. 

Glycemic Impact Of Starch

The glycemic impact of starch is a key factor in evaluating the health benefits of a food. This index helps us to understand how quickly food when absorbed by the body, can affect blood sugar levels. In short, it measures the post-spike level in an individual. 

Starch is composed of long chains of glucose molecules that are broken into simple sugars. 

Different starches can have distinct impacts on blood sugar levels. Recent studies depict that resistant starches are digested gradually in comparison to the other forms of starch. It resulted in lower postprandial spikes in the blood sugar levels. 

Cooking methods also reduce the glycemic index for starchy foods by slow digestion and by increasing the fiber content of the food. 

What are resistant starchs and their impact on digestion and their potential health benefits?

Resistant starch is a form of complex carbohydrate having 2.5 calories/gm and possesses many health benefits. It helps in easy digestion and aids in weight management. 

 As per its name is concerned, resistant starches do not get digested in the small intestine and they undergo fermentation in the large intestine to promote a good source of bacteria. 

Foods that contain resistant starches

  • Lentil
  • Brown rice
  • Quinoa
  • Cashews
  • Green bananas
  • Oats
  • Potatoes

Health benefits of consuming Resistant Starches

  • Helps in weight management
  • Helps in boosting gut health by promoting good bacteria in the large intestine. 
  • It helps in relieving constipation and hence reduces the risk of possible hemorrhoids. 
  • Boost the immune system 
  • Improves sensitivity towards insulin by regulating the blood sugar levels in case the body is affected by high sugars. Thus, it lowers the risk of getting Alzheimer’s disease, Type II diabetes, and heart complications. 

Nutritional value

The nutritional value of the polysaccharides in starch and their contribution

Starch has 2.5 calories per gram of carbohydrates. The amylose content in starch granules ranges from 11 to 37% w/w.

Higher plants tend to store starch in two different types: large A-type and small B-type

Large A-type granules contain 5-10% more amylose than the B-type starch granules. These granules’ ratio in carbohydrates increases with exposure to high temperatures. 

Starchy foods are hence highly beneficial in controlling insulin levels and a potent source of energy as they contain carbohydrates. 

Fiber content in starch helps in easy bowel movement and thus prevents constipation.

Common foods that are rich in starch polysaccharides

Foods such as potatoes, wheat, maize, quinoa, brown rice, bread, grains 

(oats, barley, bulgur) , peas, millets, sorghum, etc are examples of food products rich in polysaccharides.

Importance of starch in the food industry and its role

Polysaccharides are generally known as Glycans. Starch is a key ingredient in the food industry. 

  • Starch helps in providing a texture to foods by binding the ingredients together. 
  • Acts as a thickening agent in restaurants and other food industries for different sauces and gravies, which allows them to achieve their desired consistency in certain dishes.
  • In mayonnaise, starch helps in stabilizing emulsions. 

Q&A

1. What polysaccharides make up starch?

Starch is considered a polymer of glucose and functions as a storage polysaccharide in plants. In the case of animals, it is known as glycogen

2. What is the role of polysaccharides in starch?

They are produced by the higher plants and are stored in the form of granules in the roots, tubers, and rhizomes as energy reserves. 

3. What are the 4 types of polysaccharides?

Four types of polysaccharide include:

  • Glycogen – Found in animals and fungi
  • Starch – Made of Amylose and amylopectin. 
  • Cellulose – The plant’s cell wall is made of cellulose. 
  • Inulin – Mostly found in tubers like ginger, cassava, etc. 

4. What is an example of starch polysaccharide?

Potatoes

Summary 

  • Well, Polysaccharides in starch are known as glycans and are largely present in the plant kingdom.
  • The most common sources are cereals, grains, potatoes, carrots, millet, and legumes. 
  • Carbohydrates are also known as saccharides as sugars are the main component. 
  • Starch comprises two polymeric substances namely amylose (20%) and amylopectin (80%).
  • They are produced by the higher plants and are stored in the form of granules in the roots, tubers, and rhizomes as energy reserves.
  • Most of the starch production is done from maize and alternative sources include potatoes and bananas. 
  • Resistant starch is a form of complex carbohydrate having 2.5 calories/gm and possesses many health benefits.
  •  It helps in easy digestion and aids in weight management. 
  • In food industries, starch helps in providing a texture to foods by binding the ingredients together. 
  • Starch also acts as a thickening agent in restaurants and other food industries. 

References 

Written By: Sushmita Mukhopadhyay

Side Effects Of Acesulfame K

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Introduction

What is Acesulfame K?

Acesulfame K is a zero-calorie artificial sweetening product used as a substitute in many food products nowadays. They are generally used in dairy products, beverages, and non-carbonated drinks.

Presence of acesulfame K in low-calorie food and drinks

Ace K or Acesulfame K (1) is approximately 200 times sweeter in comparison to natural sugar. They are used widely in many food products because of their calorie count. Acesulfame K is a non-nutritive sweetener used in a variety of products such as:

Chewing gums

Dairy Products

Non-Carbonated drinks

Beverages

Sugar-free jellies and Flavored Jams

Icecreams

Baked Items including cakes and muffins

Confectionary

Salad dressings

History of the compound acesulfame K 

Acesulfame K is a non-nutritive sweetening agent with zero calories used in a variety of day-to-day products since the 1980s. This sweetener was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 1983 (2).

It is generally a colorless and odorless fine powdered texture that is 200 times sweeter than the 3% aqueous cane sugar. Chemically, it is known as potassium 6-methyl-2,2-oxo-2H-1,2λ6,3-oxathiazin-4-olate.

It does not contain an aftertaste and is stable at room temperature.

Side effects 

1. Effect on metabolism

Acesulfame K (ACE-K) is a non-nutritive sweetener used in food and beverages since the 1980s. It does not provide any nutrients to the body and can have a significant effect on metabolism because of its ability to stimulate taste receptors. 

The stimulative ability triggers certain hormones like insulin that directly interfere with the metabolic processes like storage of fats and glucose absorption. They also tend to increase appetite by stimulating hunger signals and thus indirect calorie consumption over time. Hence, causes weight gain or obesity (3).

2. Insulin Response and Glucose Metabolism

Acesulfame K can increase the rate of absorption of glucose into the bloodstream and thus potential risk of Type II diabetes. This sweetener is also responsible for interfering with the good microbes present in our gut and hence hampering the digestive processes (4).

3. Impact on Appetite

Acesulfame K contains zero calories and no nutritive value but its consumption indirectly stimulates hunger signals to the brain. Hence, it results in overeating and overconsumption of a lot of calories. The consumption of Acesulfame K is directly proportional to the increment of appetite (5).

Impact on weight regulation

It is a zero-calorie food so it does not contribute anything to the body weight. But simultaneously it does not provide any nutrition and acts only as an artificial sweetener. So, its usage needs to be limited because it does not benefit the body but only benefits the tongue (6).

Carcinogenicity concerns

Scientific studies

The first scientific studies were conducted in the 1970s and it has been concluded that this artificial sweetener can be carcinogenic. However, there is no proper evidence for this statement. When experimented on the rodents, it was seen that high doses of this sweetener caused tumors (7).

Hence, more research needs to be done on this topic for better conclusions.

Controversies

Various controversies are related to this topic as they are scientifically proven as carcinogenic but none has been proven lately. So, the controversy prevails regarding its carcinogenicity and health problems. The CSPI has encouraged the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) to do detailed research before coming to a conclusion.

Regulations

The presence of carcinogenic elements is not yet approved by the concerned bodies. The use of Ace-K as an artificial sweetener or food additive raises queries about its safety. Natural alternatives such as sugar or honey can be a safer option to consider (8).

Effect on the digestive system

Very few cases have been observed regarding its effect on the digestive system. In some people with a sensitive appetite, this food additive can cause gastrointestinal discomforts like nausea and vomiting. Hence its use needs to be limited (9).

Laxative effect

Laxatives are generally bowel-cleaning medications given to the patient with constipation issues. Ace-K acts as an osmotic laxative and softens stool movement (10).

Impact on the nervous system

Reports suggest that long-term consumption of this sweetener can cause neurological disorders and anxiety issues. Thus, its consumption needs to be limited (11).

Allergic reactions

Hyperpermeability towards Ace-K in the intestine can cause allergic reactions or food poisoning factors (12).

Impact on gut microbes

Studies suggest that it can intervene with beneficial gut bacteria, leading to dysbacteriosis and digestion issues. Dysbacteriosis is a condition when our gut bacteria are in balanced mode, which helps in effective digestion. Whereas its disbalance can lead to conditions like IBD (Irritable bowel syndrome) (13).

Interaction with medications

It is observed that this artificial sweetener can interfere with certain medications such as an increase in blood sugar levels. So, it is necessary to consult a doctor before consuming artificial sweeteners.

Q&A

Is acesulfame as bad as aspartame?

Though both of them are used as artificial sweeteners, there are still differences. Acesulfame K has a lesser absorption rate capacity than Aspartame and possesses fewer side effects. 

What does acesulfame-K do to you?

Basically, It is a zero-calorie artificial sweetener to me and can be used guilt-free in many seasonings and dishes. But it needs to be consumed moderately.

Is acesulfame sweetener safe to eat?

As per researchers, Yes! This is because there are no potential and verified risks so far but yes it should be consumed in the most limited way possible.

Is acesulfame-K the same as aspartame?

They both are artificial sweeteners but vary in their properties. Acesulfame-K is less sweet and has fewer side effects as compared to Aspartame. The absorption rate in the body is slower for Ace-K than for Aspartame.

Summary

  • Various side-effects are linked with the usage of Acesulfame-K that need to be focussed on. It is generally a colorless and odorless fine powdered texture
  • Acesulfame K is a calorie non-nutritive sweetening agent. Used in a variety of day-to-day products since the 1980s. 
  • This sweetener was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 1983.  
  • Ace K or Acesulfame K is approximately 200 times sweeter in comparison to natural sugar. It also tends to increase appetite by stimulating hunger signals and thus indirect calorie consumption over time. Hence, causes weight gain or obesity.
  • They are used widely in many food products because of their calorie count. This sweetener is also responsible for interfering with the good microbes present in our gut and hence hampering the digestive processes.

References

Written By: Sushmita Mukhopadhyay