A full English breakfast is a thing of beauty, but eating lots of processed meats can increase our risk of developing cancer. Researchers are constantly on the hunt for ways to reduce the risks of processed meat, and have recently had a breakthrough with a Japanese knotweed extract! So, could Japanese knotweed (a plant we've all come to fear) be the secret to enjoying a fry up without fear?
The problem with processed meats
We're not naive to the idea of processed meats being bad for us, but do you know why they're bad? One of the reasons is that processed meats contain nitrite, a popular preservative, that's processed by our bodies to become nitrosamines. These chemicals have been linked to a higher risk of colorectal cancers, so researchers have been trying lots of different things to lower the number of harmful chemicals in the foods we eat.
Phytochemicals to reduce nitrite in meat products (PHYTOME)
PHYTOME is a research initiative across the EU that's encouraging scientists to find new ways to reduce the nitrite in processed meats. The aim of PHYTOME is to find plant-based extracts and alternatives that will make it safer for us to consume meat. All of their research so far has indicated that supplementing meat with specific chemicals can drastically reduce the production of nitrosamines in the body.
How do researchers test this?
In order to determine whether a certain plant extract can reduce the nitrite in food, researchers ask participants to eat a variety of different meats throughout a specific period, in this case, 2 weeks. At first, they eat conventional processed red meat, then white meat, then red meat that's got the additional natural extracts. Following each dietary period, researchers carry out tests to determine what level of nitrites are present in their bodies. This can be tested through saliva, urine etc.
Is knotweed the answer?
In a recent study, researchers explain how they extracted resveratrol from Japanese knotweed and added it to red meats to see if they could reduce the cancer-causing compounds. The results are in! The Japanese knotweed extract DID reduce the creation of cancer-causing compounds in the body. Professor Kuhnle, a researcher on the project, said:
"This (study) suggests that natural additives could be used to reduce some of the potentially harmful effects of nitrite, even in foods where it is not possible to take out nitrite preservatives altogether."
Why not use other extracts?
Resveratrol is a compound that's found in a lot of other foods too including red wine, fruits and nuts. A Japanese knotweed extract was chosen for the experiment because it didn't change the texture or flavour of the meat, and it isn't a potential allergen, unlike some nut extracts.
Final words from registered dietitian, Duane Mellor:
"Although this (research) may help resolve one of the health challenges from consuming foods like bacon and sausages, their salt and fat intake needs to be considered as these are not desirable health-wise. Perhaps sausages and bacon are not quite health foods yet!"
Japanese knotweed in your garden
While it's true that Japanese knotweed may have some health benefits, particularly when we're talking about processed foods, it certainly isn't beneficial if it pops up in your garden. Japanese knotweed is an invasive plant species that can cause a whole range of problems for you as a homeowner. First and foremost, it can spread rapidly and cause problems with your neighbours. But left to grow, it can eventually cause structural damage and even prevent you from selling your home!
If you think you might have Japanese knotweed in your garden, it's vital that you seek professional help right away! Here at Taylor Total Weed Control, we offer a range of effective Japanese knotweed treatments. Start your Japanese knotweed control process by requesting a FREE survey.
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