Issue Date: February 4, 2008
Scientists Plumb Veggies' Secrets
If you're preparing broth to make chicken soup, be sure to toss in some celery. Its phthalides add pleasing complexity to the soup's flavor, according to Japanese researchers. And while your broth simmers, you might want to munch on broccoli. A U.S. research team says that vegetable's constituents limit heart damage in rats. In an article detailing their work, food chemist Kikue Kubota at Ochanomizu University, in Tokyo, and colleagues note that celery "has a characteristic spicy odor that turns to a sweet spicy note after boiling" (J. Agric. Food Chem. 2008, 56, 512). The researchers identified three volatile phthalides (one shown) whose olfactory contributions are responsible for enhancing the complex flavor of broth. Meanwhile, Dipak K. Das and colleagues at the University of Connecticut's Cardiovascular Research Center report that broccoli activates thioredoxins and other proteins that protect the heart from oxidative damage and cell death (J. Agric. Food Chem. 2008, 56, 609).
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