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Chips without fats as tasty as normal ones thanks to a new discovery

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French fries, those found at the supermarket, are one of the most popular snacks ever by the public but bad luck has it that they are characterized by a non-negligible fat content.

There are also “modified” versions with a smaller quantity of fats but this characteristic is usually obtained at the expense of the vegetable oil content, an essential element that gives the flavor to the fries themselves and provides that crunching sensation in the mouth so loved.

A group of researchers, led by Stefan Baier (researcher at PepsiCo during the study) and by Jason Stokes of the University of Queensland have therefore developed a technique to analyze the physical characteristics of the chips from the moment they are placed in the mouth until ingestion. Specifically, they analyzed the chips during four phases: the first bite, grinding by the teeth, bolus formation and swallowing.

They then collected various data including the one related to the oil content in each of the four phases. They then used this information to design low-fat chips covered with a thin layer of oil which in turn contained a small amount of emulsifier. This special “Recipe” made the potato chip more similar to the normal one, which is the one with fat, at least according to the participants in the tasting tests.

This potato chip is characterized by only 0.5% more oil than oil or fat-free chips.

Needless to say, this discovery could be used to market fats without fats that have the same taste and the same crunchiness as normal ones.

Bill Stern

I am a professor of Biology at Marquette University and the founder of The Chunk. Throughout my life I have always had a strong interest in science and learning more about how the world works, and have always wanted to eventually become a science popularizer and educator myself. The Chunk, along with my responsibilities as a professor, is my attempt at improving science education and literacy.

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Fish oil supplements associated with lower risk of cardiovascular disease

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Regular intake of fish oil-based supplements may be linked to a lower risk of death from all causes and cardiovascular disease, including heart attack and stroke, according to a press release accompanying a new study published in The BMJ.
Fish oil has become a popular dietary supplement in many countries due to the presence of omega-3 fatty acids, substances that can help prevent cardiovascular disease.

To confirm this association, a team of researchers from China and the United States used a database of subjects from the United Kingdom, one of the countries where fish oil supplements are quite widespread.
The database counted more than half a million people, men and women aged 40 to 69 years, without cardiovascular disease or cancer. The follow-up lasted from 2006 to 2010. The researchers also used hospital records to consider possible hospitalizations or deaths.

Almost a third of the subjects then reported taking fish oil supplements regularly, at least at the beginning of the follow-up.
The researchers found that a regular intake of fish oil supplements could be associated with a 13% lower risk of all-cause mortality, a 16% lower risk of cardiovascular disease mortality, and a 7% lower risk of cardiovascular disease.

The association between the use of fish oil and cardiovascular disease was higher in people with hypertension. The results remained unchanged even after analyzing various risk factors such as age, gender, lifestyle, age, any medications used and use of other supplements.
The results can be explained, according to the researchers, in the fact that omega-3 fatty acid supplements show beneficial effects on blood pressure, cholesterol level and heart rate, things that naturally have a protective effect against the onset of cardiovascular disease.

As with any observational study, it is not possible to establish a direct cause, but the researchers themselves believe that a habitual use of fish oil may be associated with a lower risk of mortality for all causes and a lower risk of contracting cardiovascular disease.

Bill Stern

I am a professor of Biology at Marquette University and the founder of The Chunk. Throughout my life I have always had a strong interest in science and learning more about how the world works, and have always wanted to eventually become a science popularizer and educator myself. The Chunk, along with my responsibilities as a professor, is my attempt at improving science education and literacy.

3560 Sycamore Lake Road, Mayville Wisconsin, 53050
920-387-9926
[email protected]
Bill Stern
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3D printing of capillaries and vascular system very faithful thanks to new material

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A new material could allow the realization, through 3D printing, of artificial tissues more similar to human vascular structures, according to a statement referring to a new study published in Nature Communications.
Researchers at the University of Nottingham and Queen Mary University in London have in fact discovered a method to print graphene oxide in 3D using a protein which can organize itself into tubular structures that seem to replicate, more or less faithfully, several important properties of the same vascular tissue.

Professor Alvaro Mata explains the results of the study: “This work offers opportunities for biofabrication by allowing the simulated top-down 3D bioprinting and self-assembly of synthetic and biological components from the bottom upwards in an orderly manner at the nanoscale. We are biofabricating micro-scale capillaries that, like fluid structures compatible with cells, have physiologically relevant properties and the ability to resist flow. This could enable the recreation of vascularization in the laboratory and could have implications in the development of safer and more efficient drugs, which means that treatments could potentially reach patients much more quickly.

By controlling how graphene oxide binds to the protein, this assembly can be guided on very small scales to print frameworks with very complex geometries and up to 10 um resolution.
A good step towards laboratory replication of very important areas of human tissue and organs in general, as Yuanhao Wu, the study’s principal researcher, suggests.

Bill Stern

I am a professor of Biology at Marquette University and the founder of The Chunk. Throughout my life I have always had a strong interest in science and learning more about how the world works, and have always wanted to eventually become a science popularizer and educator myself. The Chunk, along with my responsibilities as a professor, is my attempt at improving science education and literacy.

3560 Sycamore Lake Road, Mayville Wisconsin, 53050
920-387-9926
[email protected]
Bill Stern
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New robotic prosthesis allows hand and finger movements with thought

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One of the main problems with robotic hand implants is sending the command from the patient’s brain to the hand and fingers, through the muscles or nerves, to make the necessary movements.
It is an obstacle that seems to be solved by a new project carried out by researchers at the University of Michigan who have developed a system to control with extreme precision a robotic hand that responds to the patient’s thoughts.

The interface is based on a series of small muscle grafts that amplify the nerve signals that leave the brain. The interface has already been tested on robotic prostheses and seems to have been successful after translating the signals from the brain into real movements with a stable level of precision over time.
Current robotic prostheses work mostly by recording electrical signals from the muscles. This means that the patient has to contract the muscles in the forearm to control the fingers. This is not possible for all patients: in some of them, the muscles may be damaged or completely missing and patients cannot do the necessary push-ups to start the input.

In addition, if the person’s arm sweats, swells or the prosthesis moves, the signal is no longer accurate and the device needs to be recalibrated so much so that in the end many amputees decide that it is not worth it.
The new devices are based on nerves. They also transmit the commands of the brain along the arm. However, implanting wires into the nerves to capture their electrical signals is not efficient because the nerve signals are weak.

It has therefore been thought in the past to increase these signals from the nerves by connecting them to the muscles. In practice, the weak nerve signals have been redirected to another muscle in the body. But even this approach has in many ways proved to be unsuccessful.
Researchers at the University of Michigan, led by Paul Cederna, have therefore thought of an alternative approach, namely to equip the nerves with their own small muscles.

They connected the nerves of the arm to pieces of muscle tissue collected from the thigh, creating a new set of finger muscles inside the forearm. In the study, published in Science Translational Medicine, researchers describe the first tests with this new robotic prosthesis in which wires are inserted through the skin into alternative muscle grafts.

During testing, the device seemed to be able to easily pick up electrical signals. Using computer algorithms, the researchers were able to translate electrical signals into expected movements during tests in which patients moved a virtual hand on the screen or through a commercially available prosthesis called LUKE.
Now researchers are trying to compact this interface by remodeling it so that no wires protrude through the skin and optimizing its functions.

Bill Stern

I am a professor of Biology at Marquette University and the founder of The Chunk. Throughout my life I have always had a strong interest in science and learning more about how the world works, and have always wanted to eventually become a science popularizer and educator myself. The Chunk, along with my responsibilities as a professor, is my attempt at improving science education and literacy.

3560 Sycamore Lake Road, Mayville Wisconsin, 53050
920-387-9926
[email protected]
Bill Stern
Continue Reading

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