Calorie-packed sweets and health are not natural allies. But if researchers at Jadavpur University , Calcutta, have their way, the sandesh might now come stuffed with antioxidants (chemicals that help fight the ageing process). The university’s department of food technology and biochemical engineering has found a way to fortify the much-loved Bengali sweet with antioxidants present in beetroot and ginger. The herbal sandesh thus prepared has antioxidant levels of 200 milligrammes per kilogramme, comparable to those provided by tertbutyl hydroquinone (or TBHQ), a synthetic antioxidant commonly used in food preparations. The scientists who tested four different forms incorporating the natural antioxidants in the sweet — such as paste, tray-dried powder, freeze-dried powder and solvent extracted form — found that the best method is the one that involves solvent extraction as it showed the highest antioxidant level than any other form. And what’s more, this product also tasted better than the one currently available in the market, vouch the researchers.
Fish venom to cancer drug
The venom that lionfish uses to fight its predators may yield a chemical that has the potential to trigger self-destruction in human tumour cells, say researchers at Annamalai University in Tamil Nadu. The scientists extracted the venom from glands at the end of the needle-sharp spines of the fish, which inhabits coral reefs of the Indo-Pacific Oceans and the Red Sea. A biochemical purified from the fish venom very effectively controlled the proliferation of malignant cells in lab experiments, the researchers report in a recent issue of the Journal of Carcinogenesis. A dosage of 2 microgram per millilitre in 24 hours inhibited cancer cell growth and did not cause any adverse effect on normal white blood cells.