Snack Size Science: Vitamin chips and mama's diet

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Snack size science Nutrition

Snack Size Science: Vitamin chips and mama's diet
FoodNavigator's Snack Size Science brings you the week's top science. This week we look at how chocolate-eating sheep may give us insights into childhood obesity, and how vitamins may protect against carcinogens hiding in your French fries.

Here is a transcript of this podcast:

This is FoodNavigator’s Snack Size Science​. I’m Stephen Daniells - bringing you the week’s top science in digestible amounts.

This week we look at how vitamins may protect against carcinogens hiding in your French fries, but first does mother really know best?

Recent findings from Ireland suggest that pregnant women who snack on foods with a high glycaemic index, like white bread and chocolate, maybe more likely to have obese children.

The glycaemic index is a nutritional concept that ranks food by how quickly it releases its sugars into the bloodstream. High GI foods result in fast release, while low-GI foods release their sugars more slowly, causing, in theory, a greater feeling of fullness.

According to findings from the lab of Professor Alex Evans from University College Dublin published in the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology​, sheep fed a high GI snack during their third trimester of pregnancy were more likely to have heavier lambs. Some may question how applicable a study with sheep is to humans, but the wooly creatures are similar to us in terms of their metabolism and how they transport nutrients. They also have reproductive cycles not unlike humans, and relatively long gestation periods.

Making the jump from sheep to school children is not such a quantum leap, suggest the researchers, and with over six million school kids predicted to be obese by the end of the decade this science indicates that mum snacking on high GI food during late pregnancy may be a baa-d idea.

From childhood obesity to one of its possible causes: French fries. Chinese scientists report that the humble vitamin B3 may reduce levels of acrylamide in carbohydrate-rich foods like French fries and potato chips.

According to findings published in the journal Food Chemistry​, adding B3 to French fires can lead to acrylamide reductions of over 50 per cent.

This comes some way short of the 90 per cent reductions seen with commercial enzymes like DSM’s Preventase and Novozyme's Acrylaway, but the healthy aura surrounding vitamins may help fund further study and lead to optimization of the process.

The Chinese researchers tested 15 vitamins in all, with the best results, and by this I mean acrylamide reductions of over 40 per cent, coming for vitamins B6, C and B3.

While B6 caused some unpleasant odours when used in French fries, B3 didn’t affect the odour profile of the food. Combining significant acrylamide reductions without affecting the smell is nothing to be sniffed at.

For FoodNavigator’s Snack Size Science​, I’m Stephen Daniells.

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