Posts tagged with "Vitamin C"

Forget apples! This fruit can improve your mental health in just four days

February 13, 2024

How do you like them apples? An apple is no longer the preferred fruit for deterring doctor’s visits: New Zealand scientists have found that eating kiwi fruit can boost a person’s mood in as little as four days, reports the New York Post.

According to findings of a study published in the British Journal of Nutrition, these mental health-enhancing effects are can be attributed to the fact that kiwis are loaded with vitamin C, which is known to improve mood and vitality, among other benefits.

“It’s great for people to know that small changes in their diet, like adding kiwi fruit, could make a difference in how they feel every day,  study co-author Tamlin Conner, who teaches psychology at the University of Otago said in a statement.

To test the fruit’s alleged mood-boosting effects, the team of “Kiwis” conducted a diet experiment with155 adults who had deficient levels of vitamin C. Every day for eight weeks, participants were either given either a placebo—a 250 mg vitamin C supplement—or two kiwis, and then asked to report on their vitality, mood, sleep quality, and physical activity.

The kiwi group reportedly experienced vitality and mood enhancements in just four days with effects, peaking at around 14-16 days.

“Our participants had relatively good mental health to begin with, so had little room for improvement—but still reported the benefits of kiwi fruit or vitamin C interventions,” said lead author Dr. Ben Fletcher, who conducted the research as part of his Ph.D. at Otago.

Scientists chalked up these mental health benefits to the kiwi’s aforementioned high vitamin C content. Interestingly, participants were administered the SunGold variety of kiwi—which is yellow rather than green inside—and reportedly boasts three times as much vitamin C as oranges and strawberries, as judged on an edible flesh-weight basis.

Fletcher said that, ultimately, the results demonstrate how “what we eat can have a relatively fast impact on how we feel.

“We encourage a holistic approach to nutrition and well-being, incorporating various nutrient-rich foods into your diet,” the scientist added.

Research contact: @nypost

Is the future of soda blue?

February 14, 2022

The vivid blue color of a new brand of Dutch soda doesn’t come from food coloring: The startup making the product, called Ful, makes the drink with spirulina, a blue-green algae, which gives the soda more of a nutritional punch than the standard carbonated beverage, reports Fast Company.

The company wants to use the product to make algae a more popular dietary ingredient, in order to help shrink the carbon footprint of the food system.

The founders, who met as students at the Singapore campus of the business school INSEAD (a French acronym that translates to European Institute of Business Administration), spent months exploring ways to speed up the global shift to net zero emissions before settling on blue-green microalgae. “What I think particularly caught our imagination was how efficient it is at transforming CO2 into nutrients and oxygen,” says Julia Streuli, one of Ful’s three cofounders.

Per kilogram of protein produced, beef has a carbon footprint of around 500 kilograms; soy has a carbon footprint of around 20 kilograms. But algae quickly takes up CO2 as it grows; and in a lifecycle analysis, the startup calculated that in its own production process—which uses CO2 captured from industry—its spirulina takes in more carbon than the total process emits, giving a carbon footprint of negative 1.5 kilograms.

What’s more, algae also doesn’t need arable land to grow and doesn’t require pesticides, fertilizer, or the huge amounts of fresh water used to produce most food.

Beyond protein, it’s a source of nutrients like iron, vitamin C, magnesium, and antioxidants like chlorophyll—all of which can be found in the soda, which the company hopes will appeal to a wellness-focused clientele. Still, it isn’t yet widely used outside the supplement aisle at health food stores. “Very few people were focusing on the demand-gen side—how you make this product appealing to final consumers,” Streuli says. The flavor and smell can be unappetizing. It also doesn’t look great. “If you try to pasteurize it, which a lot of foods need for longer shelf life, the green color turns to very unappetizing brown,” she says.

Just before graduation, the founders won a business plan competition for their concept of a new spirulina-based brand. “It basically gave us enough money to justify turning down our corporate jobs,” Streuli says, and the team moved to the Netherlands to begin working with food scientists to deal with the challenges that they saw holding the ingredient back.

In doing so, the founders developed a patented new way to process the algae to extract the best-tasting parts. Their new ingredient “has a little bit of a saltiness, but it doesn’t have the fishy off-taste of spirulina,” she says. “It’s quite pleasant, and it pairs very well with other flavors.”

The extraction process also makes it a particularly bright shade of turquoise, which comes from the chlorophyll in the algae. The company decided to embrace the odd color, rather than trying to hide it. “If you’re describing that color to a friend in five years, I want you to say, ‘Oh, that’s Ful colored,’” Streuli says. (The ingredient also can be used in food; it’s not clear yet whether consumers who might be willing to drink a Gatorade-like soda will also want to eat blue-tinged granola bars.)

The first limited runs of the new soda, in flavors like peach and lemon ginger, were made in a Dutch brewery. Because breweries also produce food-grade CO2, the bioreactors growing the algae also could eventually capture that CO2 to feed the algae.

“Then you have this really wonderful closed-loop system that could be highly localized, but also scalable all over the world, using existing infrastructure,” she says.

Right now, most algae is grown with bicarbonate rather than captured CO2, but the company wants to use a process with the lowest emissions possible. The team also is working on details like packaging; the first production runs were sold in the glass bottles used by the brewery, but the company is switching to aluminum cans to lower its footprint further. And a future product, in powdered form, will have even more minimal packaging.

For now, the soda is only available in Europe and the U.K., but the brand hopes to expand to the United States later this year. Other startups also are emerging in the space, lincluding  We Are the New Farmers, a company that makes frozen spirulina cubes for smoothies from algae grown in an indoor farm in Brooklyn.

Research contact: @FastCompany