WHAT'S THE BUZZ


Freshly ground garlic good for heart

Freshly crushed garlic has more potent heart-healthy effects than dried garlic, scientists have claimed.

In the study, boffins also challenged the widespread belief that most of garlic’s benefits are due to its rich array of antioxidants.

Instead, garlic’s heart-healthy effects seem to result mainly from hydrogen sulfide, a chemical signaling substance that forms after garlic is cut or crushed and relaxes blood vessels when eaten.

In the study, Dipak K Das and colleagues point out that raw, crushed garlic generates hydrogen sulfide through a chemical reaction. Although best known as the stuff that gives rotten eggs their distinctive odour, hydrogen sulfide also acts as a chemical messenger in the body, relaxing blood vessels and allowing more blood to pass through.

Processed and cooked garlic, however, loses its ability to generate hydrogen sulfide.

“Both crushed and processed garlic reduced damage from lack of oxygen, but the fresh garlic group had a significantly greater effect on restoring good blood flow in the aorta and increased pressure in the left ventricle of the heart,” Das said.

Malaria is now drug resistant

Malaria parasites in western Cambodia are becoming increasingly resistant to artemisinin-based therapies, say researchers.

Artemisinin-based therapies are the first-line treatment for malaria, which is caused by most deadly form parasite, Plasmodium falciparum.

It is derived from Artemisia annua, also known as sweet wormwood, which had been used in Chinese medicine for centuries under the name Qinghaosu.

Rediscovered in the 1970s, artemisinin was evaluated first in South-East Asia, and eventually accepted as an essential component of antimalarial treatment. These drugs were commonly available in the form of the derivative artesunate.

Needle-free edible vaccines soon

Australian Nobel-winning scientist Barry Marshall is trying to figure out how to make edible vaccines.

Dr Marshall was honoured with a Noble Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2005, along with his research partner Dr Robin Warren, for discovering the bacteria responsible for stomach ulcers.

He says that the bacteria called Helicobacter pylori, whose discovery helped develop a cure for the ulcers, is the key to needle-free vaccinations.

He believes that his work may one day make annual flu shots as painless as downing a mouthful of yoghurt.

“I don’t really think people can imagine what it would be like to walk into a chemist shop, and buy something that vaccinates you against the flu ... that is like toothpaste,” he said.

Organic food has no health benefits

Organically produced foods are not nutritionally superior to conventionally produced foodstuffs, according to researchers.

Consumers appear willing to pay higher prices for organic foods based on their perceived health and nutrition benefits, however, the new study from London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine found no evidence for superior nutritional content of organic food.

During the review, a total of 162 relevant studies were compared for nutrient content of organically and conventionally produced foodstuffs.

For 10 out of the 13 nutrient categories analysed, there were no significant differences between production methods in nutrient content.

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