Homer Simpson might be hopping the pond to participate in an upcoming three-year study in the United Kingdom testing why we enjoy fatty foods. A Nottingham University study aims to find out why people like high-fat fare, the results of which may lead to tastier low-fat foods. The study also will focus on the chemical signals that are sent to the brain while eating. It’s currently known that the taste and aroma of food sends signals from the mouth and nose to the brain, but no one knows why we enjoy what we enjoy. Much to Homer’s disappointment, scientists won’t be testing with doughnuts, rather milkshake-like foods with differing amounts of fat. Researchers will then examine the perceptions and MRI pictures of their subjects’ brains to determine what controls our eating pleasure. The study has received support from Unilever and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council. For more information, visit: http: //research.notthingham.ac.uk.
Although it probably was not cultivated in the famous arid Outback region, scientists from the “land down under” have announced their development of a new, healthier wheat variety. Developed by Australia’s national science agency, the experimental wheat has the potential to lower incidences of irregularity, diabetes and obesity. According to the report, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal, the wheat has an altered starch composition that provides more levels of resistant starch, which aids in digestion. The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, France’s Biogemma and the Food Futures Flagship are working together to develop the wheat variety, which could help diet-related illnesses such as colorectal cancer, heart disease and diabetes. The article can be viewed at: www.pnas.org/papbyrecent.shtml.
Potatoes once were shunned by waistline watchers, which could change now that a firm based in the United Kingdom has developed a potato with fewer calories and carbohydrates. New Vivaldi potatoes from the company Naturally Best, have on average, 33% less carbohydrates and 56% fewer calories than regular potatoes. The spud variety was initially developed for its creamy texture, Vitamin C content and other nutrients. The “diet potato” was sprouted after nine years of research, right on top of the low-carb trend — a little late, but bravo, nonetheless! The potatoes currently are available at UK Sainsbury supermarkets under its “taste the difference” premium range. More information on the potatoes can be found online at: www.vpromo.co.uk.
A New Quake in Oats
Expect an expanding smile from PepsiCo’s Quaker Oats man as a new oat variety could increase the heart benefits in the familiar staple. The Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and North Dakota State University scientists announced the development of a new oat variety with more beta-glucan, a soluble oat fiber. In combination with a healthy diet, the “HiFi” spring oat’s beta-glucan can help lower blood levels of LDL, or “bad,” cholesterol. ARS cereal chemist Doug Doehlert says that HiFi oats boast 50% more beta-glucan than whole-oat products now sold in grocery stores. To find out more about the new HiFi oat, visit: www.ars.usda.gov/is/pr/2006/060206.htm.