Longer shelf life better health

The Fish Site
by The Fish Site
28 November 2006, at 12:00am

NORWAY - Fatty acids from the sea - like Omega-3 - are very positive for the health. But they can turn rancid and lose their health effect if they don't get help of antioxidants.

By adding antioxidants - substances which prevent this rancidification - the polyunsaturated fatty acids keep longer and the shelf life of seafood improves.

"The longer we can prevent the fatty acids from turning rancid by adding the right antioxidants, the longer we can preserve the shelf life of seafood and the health benefits of eating it", says Scientist Harald Barstad at Fiskeriforskning.

From synthetic to natural antioxidants

Using a new method, the scientists can now test different antioxidants against each other to determine how well they counteract the rancidification process on these marine fatty acids. And they can test many different types in a short time.

For example, they have tested how well E vitamins, which dissolve in fat, work together with C vitamins, which are water soluble. The food must in fact contain both water and fat soluble antioxidants in order for it to keep.

And the scientists proved very clearly that they work even better together than separately. But the research also has another side that many are interested in.

By comparing the effects of different antioxidants against each other, it can become possible to use more of the natural variants and thereby reduce the use of synthetic preservatives - or E substances - in foods.

Creating cells with ultrasound

The scientists are looking for antioxidants from marine organisms. Every 7 x 12 cm sample tray has 96 containers with artificial cells and antioxidants.

In order to do these tests, the scientists have created artificial cell walls by using marine fatty acids from cod roe. They have used ultrasound to supply the fatty acids with enough energy for them to bind together and create cell walls, exactly like we find in seafood.

Finally, they have added antioxidants in order to measure how well the Omega-3 fatty acids in the cell walls last such that the cells don't collapse.

The development of the new method is a part of the project "Functional Foods" and was a collaboration with the Institute of Pharmacy at the University of Troms.

The results are published in the book Seafood research from fish to dish - Quality, safety and processing of wild and farmed fish, which was published by Wageningen Academic Publishers in the Netherlands in 2006.

TheFishSite News Desk