Food Composition and Taste

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Potatoes

Potatoes are a common food that many people eat on a regular basis. From French fries to potato chips or even potato salads, this delicious food is a popular dish worldwide. However, most of the times, the nutrition contribution of this delectable good is overlooked. Yes, potatoes can be very delicious, but what makes them more special is what they’re made of.

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Some people fear that the potato is full of empty starch calories which tend some people to avoid eating them. But don’t worry! Potatoes contain a generous amount of fiber, vitamin C, several B-group vitamins, and potassium, along with carbohydrates, the primary source of energy for the body. And when baked or boiled, they are virtually a fat-free food.

Below, you can take a look at the different nutrient values of a potato based on its preparation.

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Preparation methods are able to change the chemical and nutrient contents of a potato because of things like temperature and cooking time. For example, water-soluble vitamins and minerals such as B vitamins, vitamin C, and potassium leech out from the potatoes when boiled in water. However, if you boil a potato with its skin on, it greatly reduces the loss of the nutrients.

In addition to the preparation styles, the chemical content and nutritional value of a potato can also change depending on how it is stored and how long it is stored. For example at temperatures around 40 degrees Fahrenheit, enzymes break potato starches down into simpler sugar molecules, which result in a sweeter tasting potato.

In the end, potatoes are a good food to eat because it provides lots of energy for the body with carbohydrates (chemicals made of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen).  In addition to this, it is a relatively quick source of energy as well. This is due to the fact that the complexity of the molecule determines the carbohydrate’s function.  Potato starch is slightly more complex than sugar (the smallest and simplest carbohydrate which provides quick energy) but still simple enough that it provides the same function.  Lastly, a good thing to keep in mind is that an advantage of obtaining carbohydrates from potatoes is that you will be getting a considerable amount of micronutrients as well. So the next time you eat a potato, don’t feel guilty, but enjoy every bit of it.

 

 

Author: Jennifer Lee


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More to Sweets?

Scientists have known from years ago that the T1r2 + T1r3 receptor within our taste cells on our tongues is the main mechanism by which we are able to detect sweet compounds. However, this commonly held belief that the way we are able to taste sweetness is from certain receptors in our tongue may not be the whole truth.

With the color coordinators, we can see where these T1R2 and T1R3 receptors are located on our tongues.

After researching, scientists have found that there’s much more to the taste for sweets and that its far more complex than we knew. Several other sensors that contributed to the detection of sweetness were found within our taste cells. These included those that are existent in our intestine and pancreas.

The various sugar taste sensors discovered are found to have different roles. For example, the sensor that is also found in the intestine is known as SGLT1, and it helps transport glucose into sweet taste cells, but only when sodium is present. This may explain why a pinch of salt added to baked goods, may enhance the sweetness of it.

This diagram basically shows the process of the SGLT1. You can see that glucose and Na+ go into the SGLT1 and out comes a Glut-2 along with an Na+ and K+

The sensor also found in the pancreas, a digestive organ, is known as the KATP channel and it is responsible for triggering the release of insulin when glucose levels rise.  The stu­dy’s au­thors spec­u­late that KATP may func­tion in sweet taste cells to mod­u­late taste cell sen­si­ti­vity to sugars according to met­a­bol­ic needs.

KATP channel structure

As one of the investigators of this research said “Sweet taste cells have turned out to be quite com­plex,” indeed it has. It’s really interesting to see how much more there is to tasting sweetness.

Author: Jennifer Lee


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The Unpopping Popcorn Kernels

Have you ever wondered why at the end of every bowl or bag of popcorn, you always have kernels that are left unpopped? You are then left behind with something of worthless value since eating these would only leave you with the possibility of breaking your teeth or choking from trying. But fear no further!

Scientists have discovered the secret behind unpoppable popcorn. According to the research done, the key factor that contributes to the popping quality is the chemical structure of the pericarp, the outer hull of the kernel. This covering is composed of a crystalline structure of cellulose, a carbohydrate made of glucose units, in which enables the pericarp to lock moisture and build pressure within the kernel. Eventually, the pressure results in the kernel to rupture, forming the popcorn that we eat.

Scientists identified that those in which have a stronger, more highly ordered crystalline arrangement of the cellulose molecules have the best results in popping. This is because the stronger form of the cellulose structure maximizes the moisture retention/pressure within the kernel, thus resulting in a higher chance of it completely rupturing.

Cellulose structure

This video can help visualize what’s happening inside the popcorn and why it pops.

So there may come a day when we begin to see all of our popcorn popped in our bowls/bags. It’s just a matter of time to find the perfect technique to engineer the kernels to have the optimal crystalline structure.

Author: Jennifer Lee


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Hello world!

This is Jennifer, Jonathan, and David!

Our very first post! This is just an introductory message to our blog. We will be discussing the chemical composition behind our favorite thing on earth, food! Do you like our play on the word “food” in our title? For those who do not get it, it’s the lewis dot structure of O2. Hope you enjoyed that.

Happy blogging and remember to visit frequently for more interesting posts!