Scientists Shock Spuds in Bid to Boost Antioxidants

Exposure to ultrasound also improved nutritional levels, researchers claim

MONDAY, Aug. 23, 2010 (HealthDay News) -- Giving potatoes an electric shock or immersing them in water and exposing them to ultrasound can boost their levels of healthful antioxidants, new research claims.

"Treating the potatoes with ultrasound or electricity for five to 30 minutes increased the amounts of antioxidants --- including phenols and chlorogenic acid -- by as much as 50 percent," study leader Kazunori Hironaka, of Obihiro University in Hokkaido, Japan, said in an American Chemical Society news release.

The findings were scheduled for presentation this week at the national meeting of the American Chemical Society, in Boston.

"Antioxidants found in fruits and vegetables are considered to be of nutritional importance in the prevention of chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, various cancers, diabetes, and neurological diseases," Hironaka noted in the news release.

He added that the use of ultrasound or electricity to increase antioxidant levels could have widespread commercial application due to increasing consumer interest in "functional foods" -- such as berries, nuts, soy, wine and chocolate -- that may have health benefits besides traditional nutrition.

"We knew from research done in the past that drought, bruising and other stresses could stimulate the accumulation of beneficial phenolic compounds in fresh produce," Hironaka said. "We found that there hasn't been any research on the healthful effects of using mechanical processes to stress vegetables. So we decided in this study to evaluate the effects of ultrasound and electric treatments on polyphenols and other antioxidants in potatoes."

Hironaka did not say in the news release if further research is planned to establish whether the two techniques really can boost antioxidant levels in potatoes.

More information

The American Dietetic Association has more about antioxidants.

SOURCE: American Chemical Society, news release, Aug. 22, 2010
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