Good news for chocoholics – scientists may have discovered a way of making the sweet treat healthier.
Dark chocolate has long been hailed for its antioxidant properties when enjoyed in moderation, however, not everyone can get on board with its rich bitter taste.
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A team from the American Chemical Society (ACS) found adding powdered peanut skins to milk chocolate can make the indulgence more antioxidant-rich than dark varieties, without compromising its creamy flavour or light texture.
When given to a team of taste testers, more than half even preferred peanut-skin enriched milk chocolate to the ones in shops today.
“The idea for this project began with testing different types of agricultural waste for bioactivity, particularly peanut skins,” said lead author Dr Lisa Dean.
“Our initial goal was to extract phenolics [a class of chemicals with antioxidant properties] from the skins and find a way to mix them with food.”
When peanuts are roasted to make nut butter or confectionary, their red papery skins are discarded, leading to thousands of tonnes of waste every year.
While they may not be particularly appetising, peanut skins are made up of 15% phenolic compounds.
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The scientists ground peanut skins into a powder, before extracting the phenols.
This left behind lignin and cellulose – both substances in plant cell walls – which add roughage to animal feed.
Not just focusing on peanut skins, the scientists also extracted phenols from coffee grounds and tea leaves.
The resulting powder was then combined with maltodextrin, a common food additive, to make it easier to incorporate into milk chocolate.
Different products were created, ranging from a 0.1% to 8.1% phenol concentration.
“Phenolics are very bitter, so we had to find some way to mitigate that sensation,” said Dr Dean.
When given to taste testers, the panel found concentrations of more than 0.9% were detectable, affecting the flavour or texture.
Lower concentrations led to a good compromise, however.
Results – presented at the ACS Fall 2020 Virtual Meeting & Expo – revealed more than half of the taste testers even preferred the 0.8% phenolic milk chocolate over normal varieties, with this sample having a higher antioxidant activity than most dark chocolates.
Phenols, along with less dairy and sugar, are what give dark chocolate its bitterness.
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People who opt for dark chocolate, hoping to reap its health benefits, may also notice it is more expensive than milk varieties due to the higher cocoa content.
The scientists believe adding peanut skins to milk chocolate could give the same wellbeing boost at a fraction of the cost.
They acknowledge the risk of allergies, however, with any peanut-enriched chocolate having to be labelled as containing the common allergen.
To lessen this concern, the scientists are planning to test coffee grounds and other waste products in a similar way.
They hope to also discover whether the antioxidants in peanut skins extend the shelf life of nut butters, which can go rancid quickly due to their high fat content.
BREAKING | 24 new cases of COVID-19 in Niagara – Newstalk 610 CKTB (iHeartRadio)
Niagara Region Public Health are reporting 24 new cases of COVID-19 in the region.
This is the highest single day increase of cases since June 3rd, which saw 40 new cases in the region.
Currently, Niagara has 77 active cases of the virus, and five active outbreaks.
Ontario reported 491 new cases today.
A physicist says new math proves paradox-free time travel is possible – SlashGear
Time travel has been the staple science fiction books and movies for many years. Most who have read or watched content focusing on time travel knows about the paradox issue. Perhaps the best example is the 80s classic “Back to the Future,” where Marty accidentally prevents his parents from meeting and has to fix his error before he’s wiped out of existence.
Time travel is something that scientists and physicists have considered for many years. A physics student named Germain Tobar from the University of Queensland in Australia says that he has figured out the math that would make time travel viable without paradoxes. According to Tobar, classical dynamics says if you know the state of the system at a particular time, it can tell you the entire history of the system.
His calculations suggest that space-time may be able to adapt itself to avoid paradoxes. One example is a time traveler who journeys into the past to stop a disease from spreading. If the mission were successful, there would’ve been no disease for the time traveler to go back and try and prevent. Tobar suggests that the disease would still spread in some other way, through different route or method, removing the paradox.
He says whatever the time traveler did, the disease wouldn’t be stopped. Tobar’s work is highly complicated but is essentially looking at deterministic processes on an arbitrary number of regions in the space-time continuum. It’s demonstrating how closed timelike curves, which Einstein predicted, can fit in with the rules of free will and classical physics.
Tobar’s research supervisor is physicist Fabio Costa from the University of Queensland. Costa says that the “maths checks out,” further noting that the results are the stuff of science fiction. The new math suggests that time travelers can do what they want, and paradoxes are not possible. Costa says that events will always adjust themselves to avoid any inconsistency.
We May Finally Know What Life on Earth Breathed Before There Was Oxygen – ScienceAlert
Billions of years ago, long before oxygen was readily available, the notorious poison arsenic could have been the compound that breathed new life into our planet.
In Chile’s Atacama Desert, in a place called Laguna La Brava, scientists have been studying a purple ribbon of photosynthetic microbes living in a hypersaline lake that’s permanently free of oxygen.
“I have been working with microbial mats for about 35 years or so,” says geoscientist Pieter Visscher from the University of Connecticut.
“This is the only system on Earth where I could find a microbial mat that worked absolutely in the absence of oxygen.”
Microbial mats, which fossilise into stromatolites, have been abundant on Earth for at least 3.5 billion years, and yet for the first billion years of their existence, there was no oxygen for photosynthesis.
How these life forms survived in such extreme conditions is still unknown, but examining stromatolites and extremophiles living today, researchers have figured out a handful of possibilities.
While iron, sulphur, and hydrogen have long been proposed as possible replacements for oxygen, it wasn’t until the discovery of ‘arsenotrophy‘ in California’s hypersaline Searles Lake and Mono Lake that arsenic also became a contender.
Since then, stromatolites from the Tumbiana Formation in Western Australia have revealed that trapping light and arsenic was once a valid mode of photosynthesis in the Precambrian. The same couldn’t be said of iron or sulphur.
Just last year, researchers discovered an abundant life form in the Pacific Ocean that also breathes arsenic.
Even the La Brava life forms closely resemble a purple sulphur bacterium called Ectothiorhodospira sp., which was recently found in an arsenic-rich lake in Nevada and which appears to photosynthesise by oxidising the compound arsenite into a different form -arsenate.
While more research needs to verify whether the La Brava microbes also metabolise arsenite, initial research found the rushing water surrounding these mats is heavily laden with hydrogen sulphide and arsenic.
If the authors are right and the La Brava microbes are indeed ‘breathing’ arsenic, these life forms would be the first to do so in a permanently and completely oxygen-free microbial mat, similar to what we would expect in Precambrian environments.
As such, its mats are a great model for understanding some of the possible earliest life forms on our planet.
While genomic research suggests the La Brava mats have the tools to metabolise arsenic and sulphur, the authors say its arsenate reduction appears to be more effective than its sulfate reduction.
Regardless, they say there’s strong evidence that both pathways exist, and these would have been enough to support extensive microbial mats in the early days of life on Earth.
If the team is right, then we might need to expand our search for life forms elsewhere.
It really is so much more than just a poison.
The study was published in Communications Earth and Environment.
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