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Food for thought for winter, holidays


Here are a few tips on how to make your fall and winter seasons a bit healthier and happier this year, courtesy of the American Chemical Society, the world’s largest scientific society.

An apple a day…

The cold season is nothing to sneeze at, but here’s something that might help: researchers say some apples might do a better job of keeping the doctor away than others. Red Delicious, Northern Spy and Ida Red, pack a greater wallop of disease-fighting antioxidants than other apples studied, reports a Canadian study in the ACS Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

Researcher: Rong Tsao, Ph.D., Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, (519) 780-8062,

Corking good time for holiday dinners

With bottles of wine poised to be opened for a variety of holiday dinners, controversy is swirling over what you use to keep the reds and whites in the bottles: natural or synthetic corks or screw tops. There are some problems with all three, experts reported at this summer’s national meeting of the American Chemical Society in Washington, D.C. There is a risk of “cork taint,” which gives the wine an undesirable flavor when cork is used to produce better aging. You might also have to sacrifice the ambiance of popping a cork to lessen the chances of the wine not having the best possible flavor.

Researcher: Sara J. Risch, Ph.D., School of Packaging, Michigan State University and councilor, ACS Agricultural and Food Chemistry Division, (517) 355- 9117,

The holiday season and toys from all the ages

The American Chemical Society, on its Web site,, under Celebrating Chemistry, explains how children can use chemistry to make their own toys. For example, kids can make bouncing balls, which have been around for thousands of years, using a mixture containing water, glue, cornstarch and other materials. Children and parents also can find a wide range of neat chemistry experiments using household items on and on Wondernet. Some of the experiments are “The Science of Soda Pop,” “Stuff that Floats” and “Stuff that Sticks.” This year’s theme for National Chemistry Week is the Joy of Toys.

Hot drinks in cold weather: they do more than warm the bones

With the winter winds just over the horizon, three popular hot drinks will not only warm you up, but could also heat up your immune system and possibly help prevent certain ailments. Chemists have found that coffee is the number one source of antioxidants in the U.S. diet; hot cocoa contains more antioxidants per cup than tea or red wine, which provide substantial doses; and chamomile tea, the popular herbal drink, may actually help relieve a wide range of health ailments, including colds and menstrual cramps. The cocoa and chamomile papers appeared in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

Researchers: Coffee, Joe A. Vinson, Department of Chemistry, University of Scranton, Phone: 570-941-7551,; hot cocoa, Chang Yong Lee, Chang Yong Lee, Ph.D., Department of Food Science, Cornell University, 315-787-2271, ; and chamomile, Elaine Holmes, Department of Chemistry, Imperial College London, Phone: 44-0-20-75943174,

Onions are nothing to cry over

Besides adding flavor to a Thanksgiving favorite like stuffing, onions also may be good for your bones. University of Bern, Switzerland, researchers, in a study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, have identified a compound in the popular vegetable that appears to decrease bone loss in laboratory studies.

Researcher: Rudolf Brenneisen, Department of Clinical Research,University of Bern, Switzerland, Phone: 41-31-632 87 14,

Cranberries more than a complement to the Thanksgiving turkey

An antioxidant comparison of some of the most common fruits found that the little red berry — in its pure form — contains the highest quantity of disease-fighting phenols, a type of antioxidant that is thought to reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as cancer, stroke and heart disease. The comprehensive study of the quantity and quality of antioxidants in fruits, was reported in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

Researcher: Joe A. Vinson, Department of Chemistry, University of Scranton, Phone: 570-941-7551,

Michael Bernstein | EurekAlert!
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