Researchers at the Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) have concluded that pumpkins can control activation of cancer cells. Noor Aziah Abdul Aziz, a technology industry department lecturer at the university, says pumpkin flour contains resistance starch to produce propionic acid. “The acid causes the starch to remain indigestible, thus fermenting the bacteria and weakening the cancer cells. It changes the oxidation process,” Aziah said.
Other than resistance starch, the pumpkin has high fibre content, natural colour suitable for making bread or noodles, vitamin A, antioxidant and minerals. She said the flesh of the pumpkin is dried and then mixed with wheat flour and processed into multi-purpose flour. “I am also studying the use of the skin and seed of pumpkin in the flour,” she added.
Omega-3 good for babies
Children whose mothers get enough omega-3 fatty acid during pregnancy may have sharper problem-solving skills in infancy, according to Carol J. Lammi-Keefe of the Louisiana State University. The researchers found that nine-month-olds whose mothers had eaten docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)-fortified bars during pregnancy performed better in a test of problem-solving abilities. DHA is one of the major omega-3 fatty acids found in oily fish such as salmon, sardine and tuna. Because of the fat’s vital role in brain development, experts recommend that pregnant women get 300mg of DHA every day. The new findings, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, suggest that women who get adequate DHA may aid their infants’ cognitive abilities. The study included 29 women in their 24th week of pregnancy. Half were randomly assigned to eat a cereal bar supplemented with 300mg of DHA from fish oil while the rest were given a bar with corn oil to serve as a comparison. The women had five bars every week. In general, the babies in the DHA group performed better in the test than those in the comparison group. (Reuters)