Baseball food and drink: Healthy chemistry scores a surprise hit

July 07, 2005

A baseball stadium may not be the first place that comes to mind when looking for healthy foods, but researchers are finding that some ballpark favorites, including beer, contain compounds that are good for you ... in moderation, of course. Whether you plan to attend a game in person or watch one on television, consider these intriguing findings from studies originally published in the American Chemical Society's Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry: Sunflower seeds may lower blood pressure -- Baseball players and fans who enjoy the taste of sunflower seeds have a new reason to like this popular snackfood. Researchers in Spain have shown in lab studies that the popular seeds appear to release a compound upon digestion that has the potential to lower blood pressure and could serve as a natural weapon to help strike out hypertension.

Moderate beer drinking may reduce heart attack risk -- A beer a day may help keep heart attacks away, according to a group of Israeli researchers. In preliminary clinical studies of a group of men with coronary artery disease, the researchers showed that drinking one 12-ounce beer a day for a month produced changes in blood chemistry that are associated with a reduced risk of heart attack. Those who participated in the study showed decreased cholesterol levels, an increase in antioxidants and reduced levels of fibrinogen, a clot-producing protein, according to the researchers.

Anti-cancer compounds found in sauerkraut -- You might want to add a little more sauerkraut to your hot dog: The tangy topping, made from fermented cabbage, contains a class of compounds called isothiocyanates which were previously identified in other studies as potential cancer-fighting agents, researchers say.

Onions battle osteoporosis -- Go ahead and toss more onions on your hamburger or hot dog: They're good for your bones! In lab studies using bone cells from rats, researchers at the University of Bern in Switzerland found a peptide compound in onions that appears to decrease bone loss. Although more studies are needed, the study suggests that eating onions might help people prevent bone loss and osteoporosis, a disease which predominately affects older women.

Hot dogs: Low-fat is better but less flavorful -- While low-fat hot dogs may be better for your heart than regular dogs, science has now confirmed what many people say they already knew: regular dogs taste better. Researchers found that aroma compounds, which affect flavor, appear to be released more slowly and last longer in regular frankfurters than in the lower-fat variety. Whichever you choose, be sure to add some sauerkraut and onions. Oh, and maybe a breath mint for dessert.
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The American Chemical Society is a nonprofit organization, chartered by the U.S. Congress, with a multidisciplinary membership of more than 158,000 chemists and chemical engineers. It publishes numerous scientific journals and databases, convenes major research conferences and provides educational, science policy and career programs in chemistry. Its main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio.

-- Mark T. Sampson

EDITOR'S NOTE: For further information about the studies mentioned, please contact the person listed at the beginning of this release.

American Chemical Society

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