Research into anti-oxidants wins award for Greek chemists

THESSALONIKI – The University of Thessaloniki’s Laboratory of Food Chemistry and Technology has won an award from the American Oil Chemists Society in Cincinnati for research into olive oil and aromatic plants. For years, it has been carrying out research into anti-oxidants. The research was carried out by PhD candidate Nikos Nenadis and Assistant Professor Maria Tsimidou. Their work was judged the best in the field of oxidization and fat quality. It was the sixth award bestowed by the society, amid a choice of projects published in its periodical. The results of the research, which was conducted in the Thessaloniki laboratory, aid our understanding of the way in which natural anti-oxidants work, thus enabling their use as food supplements in the right quantities. «For example,» Tsimidou told Kathimerini, «an anti-oxidant in an oil can be effective in a quantity many times higher than in a dairy product, or vice versa.» This kind of information can help the food industry improve products sold to consumers. More important, however, is the knowledge of how plant-derived anti-oxidants, which human beings consume as their daily food, actually work. Such knowledge can transform the importance of an agricultural product. As Tsimidou pointed out, «this indirectly leads to new activities for farmers, who can cultivate plants rich in these ingredients.» Ingredients that have positive effects on the body (such as anti-oxidants, anti-cancer and cholesterol-lowering agents) are designated as «functional» by experts. The subjects of study are not the usual nutrients (vitamins, trace elements) but exist in certain categories of food (fruit, vegetables, virgin olive oil), drink (red wine), beverages (tea), herbs and spices (the saffron-producing crocus grown in Kozani, oregano) that are produced or flourish in this country.

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