Plant-based alternatives to yogurt

Researchers at the Universitat Politècnica de València have obtained new products fermented with probiotic bacteria from grains and nuts — what is known as plant-based or vegetable “milks” — which are an alternative to conventional yogurts. The products are specially designed for people with allergies to cow’s milk, lactose or gluten intolerance, as well as children and pregnant women.

From the laboratories at the Institute of Food Engineering for Development, the team has worked with almonds, oats and hazelnuts and soon will evaluate the use of walnuts and chestnuts as raw material for these new products…

The in vitro studies conducted show how some of the products developed have anti-inflammatory properties in intestine cells, which could alleviate allergic reactions caused by food, and increase the bioavailability of iron. The caseins of cow’s milk as well as being on the list of allergens components hinder the absorption of iron…

Furthermore, the research conducted offers new clues to improve commercial plant-based “milks” available in the market today, which have deficiencies related to low physical stability during storage…

These plant “milks” are characterized by a profile of healthy fatty acids and carbohydrates with low glycaemic index suitable for diabetics. Moreover, they constitute an important source of vitamins B and E, antioxidant compounds…and dietary fibre, which helps to improve intestinal health.

They are also rich in potassium and very low in sodium, so these drinks help maintain a healthy balance of electrolytes.

The “milks” derived from nuts are especially recommended for pregnant women because of its richness in folic acid and its good calcium/phosphorus ratio. “This last property, together with the absence of lactose, milk protein and gluten, are what make these drinks good substitutes for cow’s milk,” concludes Chelo González.

So-called common knowledge says folks who are lactose intolerant shouldn’t have a problem digesting milk-based yogurt. Well, I’m one where that standard flops. The only yogurt I can consume without a problem is the non-fat variety.

Plus – as a fan of adding nuts to your nutrition – I’m looking forward to trying some of these new milks. Now, can you make scamorze or mozzarella with one of them?

BTW – yes, I’m aware of the wide variety of similar products already on the market. Ain’t ever anything wrong with more study. 🙂

Pic of the Day


Click to enlargeScott Olson/Getty Images

Winter storm stretches from the Midwest through New England into the Canadian Maritimes. This is a lovely photo from Chicago – but I still prefer living where 99% of snow storms drop nothing but pristine powder.

Living here in a valley at 6500′ altitude the snow usually disappears after a few days of brilliant high desert sun. 🙂

Searching for time travelers on Twitter

At this juncture in time, humanity does not know how to travel into the past, or even if such a concept has any meaning. So if you are an astrophysicist who wants to uncover evidence of time travel, what do you do? If you’re Michigan Technological University astrophysics professor Robert Nemeroff and his PhD student Teresa Wilson, you look for time travelers on Twitter.

Time travel into the future is a fact – we do it every day. Accelerated time travel into the future can be measured using atomic clocks in fast airplanes. However, time travel into the past is a dicier proposition. While it appears that this is not forbidden by any current physics, we also don’t know how to accomplish the task.

There is a (rather short) tradition of attempts to contact people who have arrived here from the future. In 2005, an MIT graduate student held a convention for time travelers. Despite considerable pre-convention publicity, no time travelers owned up at the convention. In 2012, Stephen Hawking held a party for time travelers, sending out the invitations after the party was held. Again, no one came to his party.

Surely one of the main ways to vet someone who claims to be a time traveler is their knowledge of something that has not yet occurred. This concept inspired Nemeroff…and Wilson to search the internet for signs of anachronistic factoids…

It seems there are very few events that can be uniquely identified by a couple of words. Such events have to be surprises to the extent that the descriptive words have likely never previously been combined. The Michigan Tech astrophysicists came up with “Comet ISON”, which was discovered on September 21, 2012, and “Pope Francis”, a name first appearing on March 16, 2013…No comet had previously been called Comet ISON, and no previous pope was named Francis, so these phrases are unlikely to have been used previously…

Although this may seem a silly bit of research…it is actually a reasonable attempt to see if time travelers have left traces of their anachronistic presence in the blogosphere. However, now that the concept of such searches has surfaced, it seems unlikely that any more will be carried out. Fake evidence of time travel would be too easy to retrofit into the collective memories of our history. While time may be out of joint, it appears that no one sent from the future to set it right has left obvious traces, at least on Twitter.

Would make a helluva TV series, though.