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From the Bottom of the Mariana Trench

From the Bottom of the Mariana Trench

The Mariana Trench in the Western Pacific Ocean is the deepest section of the world’s oceans.  The trench is located an average of 124 miles east of the Mariana Islands, in the Western Pacific Ocean, East of the Philippines. The trench has a width of 43 miles and a length of 1,580 miles, which is significantly greater than the distance from Boston to Miami (1,258 miles).  The deepest part of the Mariana Trench is known as Challenger Deep, located 189 miles southwest of Guam.  Named after the British Royal Navy survey ship, Her Majestry’s Ship (HMS) Challenger which made the first recording of its depth during an expedition from 1872-1874, Challenger Deep has a depth of 36,070 feet based on sonar measurements from the U.S. Center for Coastal & Ocean Mapping.  At the bottom of Challenger Deep, the water column exerts a pressure of 1,086 bar; this is more than 1,000 times the standard atmospheric pressure that you would experience if you were standing on a beach at sea level!  However, this pressure pales in comparison to the pressure that food products experience inside a high-pressure pasteurization (HPP) machine where pressures reach ~6,000 bar.

So what is HPP and what does it have to do with standing at the bottom of Challenger Deep in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Guam?  HPP is a method of pasteurizing food that circumvents the use of heat.  Rather than heating food to high temperatures to kill the harmful microorganisms, an HPP machine creates massive pressures inside a water-filled chamber; these pressures are 6 times greater than the pressure that one would experience standing at the bottom of Challenger Deep.  Naturally this requires very specialized equipment and facilities.  You must be wondering, “why go to the trouble?”  Pasteurization is an extensive area of Food Science research and Food Scientists are constantly searching for new ways to make the food that we eat safe while preserving the nutrients found within the food that we eat.  For example, flavanones are a class of natural products that are found in oranges and other citrus fruits that have been studied extensively to understand if they have a role in protecting our heart (cardioprotection) [1].  Clinical studies along with studies in animal models have shown that these flavanones haveanti-hypertensive, lipid-lowering, insulin-sensitizing, antioxidative, and anti-inflammatory properties.  Recently a group of Spanish [2] researchers tried to make an orange drink by taking orange juice through an alcoholic fermentation process (similar to the process of making beer!) to make a drink enriched with flavanones.  One of the challenges that they encountered is that when their drink is pasteurized using heat pasteurization, the quantities of many of the beneficial flavanones decreases.  A group of Food Scientists in China studied different ways of preparing white grape juice [3].  They found that white grape juice processed using HPP had higher quantities of specific anti-oxidants when compared to white grape juice that was pasteurized using heat.  The sensory properties of white grape juice processed using HPP was found to be indistinguishable from unpasteurized, fresh white grape juice.

Fortetropin® is a fertilized egg yolk-derived product that is also pasteurized using the method inspired by Challenger Deep – high pressure pasteurization (HPP).  Fortetropin® is a key ingredient in a line of functional food products called Qurr (www.qurr.com).  In a double-blind, placebo-controlled study performed a the University of Tampa subjects that consumed Fortetropin® experienced statistically significant gains in muscle mass relative to subjects that received a macronutrient-matched placebo [4].  The famous Greek physician, Hippocrates once said “let food be thy medicine.”  Advances in areas of science such as lipidomics and metabolomics are making it possible to better characterize the wealth of natural products that are found to exist within food.  Using pasteurization methods inspired by Challenger Deep will perhaps take us one step closer to the vision of Hippocrates.

References:

1. Chanet, Audrey, et al. "Citrus flavanones: what is their role in cardiovascular protection?." Journal of agricultural and food chemistry 60.36 (2012): 8809-8822.

2. Escudero-López, Blanca, et al. "Effect of thermal processing on the profile of bioactive compounds and antioxidant capacity of fermented orange juice." International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition 67.7 (2016): 779-788.

3. Chang, Yin‐Hsuan, et al. "Effect of high pressure processing and thermal pasteurization on overall quality parameters of white grape juice." Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture (2016).

4. Sharp, Matthew H., et al. "The Effects of Fortetropin Supplementation on Body Composition, Strength, and Power in Humans and Mechanism of Action in a Rodent Model." Journal of the American College of Nutrition 35.8 (2016): 679-691.

 

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