Manufacturers on the health wagon will welcome the news this week that food scientists have designed free radical beating crisps.
Building on current evidence that antioxidants can help destroy and eliminate free radicals - potentially harmful to the human body - researchers investigated the impact of adding an antioxidant-rich product to oil for frying crisps.
Dimitra P Houhoula and colleagues from the laboratory of food chemistry and technology at the university of Athens decided to investigate the effect of oregano on the 'oxidative stability of cottonseed oil during frying of potato chips and on the storage stability of the produced chips'.
Ground oregano, or an ethanol-derived extract, was added to the oil at a concentration of 2 g l-1 (dry basis) before frying. The scientists found that the addition of oregano to frying oil reduced the number of chemical reactions that produce free radicals, leaving crisps with fewer free radicals. Not only this, according to their findings, oregano appears to have had a protective effect during storage, with the crisps deteriorating (undergoing oxidation) at a significantly slower rate.
"Oregano has multivariable benefits in frying oils," said Vasso Oreopoulou, co-author of the study. "It restricts the deterioration of dietary essential lipid ingredients and the formation of harmful free radicals," he continued, adding that the flavonoids and other antioxidant components of oregano have antimicrobial, antithrombotic, antimutagenic and anticarcinogenic benefits within the human body.
Full findings are published in Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture(Vol 83(14), 2003).