WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - An animal study at Purdue University has shown that adding ascorbic acid and sugar to green tea can help the body absorb helpful compounds and also demonstrates the effectiveness of a model that could reduce the number of animals needed for these types of studies.
Mario Ferruzzi, associate professor of food science and nutrition, adapted a digestion model with human intestinal cells to show that adding ascorbic acid to green tea would increase the absorbability of catechins found in the tea. Catechins, a class of polyphenols common in tea, cocoa and grape, are antioxidants thought to fight heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes and other health problems.
Ferruzzi, Elsa Janle, a Purdue associate research professor of foods and nutrition, and Catrina Peters, a Purdue graduate student in nutrition, were able to demonstrate that adding ascorbic acid, sucrose or both together increases by as much as three times the amount of catechins that can be absorbed into the bloodstream. The results of the in vivo study compared well with those predicted by the in vitro model.
"This model may be used as a pre-emptive screening tool at very little cost before you do expensive tests on animals or humans," said Ferruzzi, whose findings were published in the early online edition of the journal Food Research International. "If you want to get human screening off the ground, it takes months. If you want to use this model, it takes hours."
The model charts how the digestive stability, solubility and absorption of polyphenols changes based on modifications to a beverage's formula. It will not be exact in terms of measurements, but when compared to the in vivo test in rats, the model's predictions matched directionally to the in vivo study and were relatively close proportionately.
Ferruzzi said testing with the model could allow researchers to predict how a new product formula might change the product's prop
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