Tuesday, 20 December 2016

we are what we eat

We are what we eat and animals are what they eat!

So, it is not surprising that

Over the festive season, let's remember that food is the best medicine!

Merry Christmas !


Tuesday, 13 December 2016

omega-3 means nothing in terms of nutritional value

I have to agree with this post.
"Omega-3" means few things in terms of nutrition...
For the food chemists, omega-3 means an acid having a double bond 3 bonds away for the omega end of the molecule (i.e. methyl end). There are numerous omega-3 in Nature.

In terms of nutritional value and especially cardio-protective action, neutral omega-3 acids are not effective at all, as justified here.
It is the polar head of the acid that makes it labile and effective as discussed here.
Some structures of polar omega-3 are given here. 
The polar head (PE, PG, PS, PC) carries vital biological value...Let's remember this when we desing new food and supplements!

Lipidomic analysis of fraction MS1. (A) Negative ion ES-MS survey scans (600–1000 m/z), (B) positive ion ES-MS survey scans (600–1000 m/z). Annotation of the major lipid species are based upon daughter ion fragmentation analysis by ES-MS–MS, see Experimental for details.

Monday, 12 December 2016

jobs, education and music

The following is a comment I have posted at this story

Athens' emblematic concert hall struggles to keep the music playing

I am afraid that this story is not at all a top priority for a country with around 60% youth unemployment!
So, I think that any criticism to Helena should be towards the report priorities in a country that has lost more than 250,000 scientists and engineers over the past 5 years.
We need to remember that
Primum vivere deinde philosophari (Live first, then philosophize).
Greek Unis at the moment face an even more, than Megaron's, crisis: the levels of staff has decreased about 35% since 2010 and the salary has been reduced by 25%. It was already 50% lower than EU average...(before I get any cynical comments).
At the moment, a new Lecturer in Greece would get about 1200 pcm (after tax)...
So, let me ask you: in a country without tertiary education, without a specific plan to create jobs, without a plan to develop exports (apart from brain-draining), WHY should we bother about Megaron? That in any case, only few Greeks could afford it...

 Ioannis Zabetakis

P.S. a brain-drainer myself... I am so sorry to see my friends, my ex-colleagues and my ex-students struggling to make ends meet in a country still falling in a downward spiral with no end...


More than 3 years ago, I have been writting...
A nation without education is a suicidal one

Friday, 9 December 2016

The role of aqua industry towards healthier eating

the title of this post is my latest op-Ed piece in International Aquafeed.

You can read it by clicking here.

As always, your comments are mostly welcome.


Wednesday, 7 December 2016

some thoughts on the new food pyramid for Ireland

The Department of Health keeps dietary recommendations under review as part of its role in promoting evidence based public health. As part of this review, the new Healthy Food for Life – the Healthy Eating Guidelines and Food Pyramid have been developed by the Department working in partnership with other experts in nutrition in Ireland.

Healthy Food for Life is a toolkit which includes a new Food Pyramid and guidance materials to help people makes choices to maintain a healthy, balanced diet. The resources reflect best national and international evidence and advice. The guidance applies for everyone from 5 years of age upwards.

The above text appears on the website http://www.healthyireland.ie/.

Some thoughts on these guidelines:
1. There are two problems with this pyramid: one around fats and oils and the other one on meat and fish.
2. Fats and oils : the cardioprotective properties of fats differ dramatically between processed fats (e.g. crisps) and natural fats (e.g. nuts, dried fruits, olive oil). The information that passes to the Public is that all fats are the same...but this is not the case! We should communicate to the Public that actually some fats have strong cardioprotective properties (i.e. all polar lipids in wine, fish, vegetable oils, olives etc)
3. Meat and fish: these two foods have distinctive nutritional values in terms of cardioprotection! It is. with regret, to say that it is a grave scientific mistake to group these foods (even more severe that then grouping of all fats). Fish (any fish!) has strong anti-inflammatory properties! (see chapters 4,5 and 8 on this book). Also, the nutritional values of red and white meat are different; this is also overlooked.

I am afraid that the information that is going to be disseminated will have a profound impact towards the wrong direction ...

I would suggest that some information on moderate wine consumption, the value of eating with others and the differences between fish and meat could be drawn from the Med Diet pyramid.

Ioannis Zabetakis (BSc, MEd, PhD)
University of Limerick,

Monday, 28 November 2016

what is skyr?

Skyr (pronounced “skeer”) is a cultured dairy product similar to ultra-thick yoghurt, and a long-time staple in Icelandic cuisine.

Ten years ago skyr – pronounced skeer with a trill on the r – barely registered in the world’s yoghurt market. Now, according to global business consultants Future Market Insights, the market for skyr is worth nearly $8bn (£6.4bn) a year and growing fast.

This is a fascinating story.

But what is skyr exactly? Here and here there is some info.

I can see it is rich in Ca and proteins.

I still can't understand though why it was called "superfood" on the Guardian article.

With 0% fat, how strong are its anti-inflammatory properties?

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

UL Talk : Ioannis Zabetakis (November 2016)

UL colleagues who have given an UL talk with UL President Prof Don Barry as pictured @ UL on event launching the new series of UL Talks (21st Nov 2016).

UL Talks are short video lectures delivered by UL teachers on themes, issues, ideas and subjects that they are passionate about. They are designed to showcase our teachers, and to give the wider world a flavour of some of the conversations being initiated within UL’s classrooms, laboratories and communities. UL Talks are becoming an important part of UL's global digital identity and the future aim will be to showcase all our teachers using this medium.

Your comments and views are most welcome.



Monday, 21 November 2016

Fun for Functional and Fun for Fun

The name of this blog is FunFood and it is fanatic about fun and food but also about functional food.
The posts are not only about food but also activities that make us having fun and therefore a better quality of life.

One of them is sports! Any sport...from Soccer to Hurling and Athletics.

Both my boys love soccer, and since our arrival to Ireland, have joined Corbally United.

Last weekend, the U13-A team got new training tops with their initials (photo); 
a big thanks to Martin for securing this sponsorship. 

It looks like the new tops have a positive aura, first game for our team with the new tops: 
Corbally United - Caherdavin 5-1 (friendly) 😉

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Let astaxanthin be thy medicine

Astaxanthin is known as a "marine carotenoid" and occurs in a wide variety of living organisms such as salmon, shrimp, crab, and red snapper. 

Astaxanthin antioxidant activity has been reported to be more than 100 times greater than that of vitamin E against lipid peroxidation and approximately 550 times more potent than that of vitamin E for singlet oxygen quenching. 

Astaxanthin exhibits no pro-oxidant activity and its main site of action is on/in the cell membrane. To date, various important benefits suggested for human health include immunomodulation, anti-stress, anti-inflammation, LDL cholesterol oxidation suppression, enhanced skin health, improved semen quality, attenuation of eye fatigue, increased sports performance and endurance, limiting exercised-induced muscle damage, and the suppression of the development of lifestyle related diseases such as obesity, atherosclerosis, diabetes, hyperlipidemia and hypertension. 

Recently, there has been an explosive increase worldwide in both the research and demand for natural astaxanthin in human health applications. 


 Let astaxanthin be thy medicine


Tuesday, 15 November 2016

on the real value of soccer

I was writing yesterday that soccer should be about fun and joy.
And here is a story that proves my point.

Last Friday, San Marino played against Germany, the final score was 0-8.
Thomas Muller was not happy with this...
He said: I don’t understand the point of such uneven games like these, even more so because of the crowded fixture list.’‘I understand that for them it is special to play against the world champions, I understand also that they can only defend with tough tackling.’‘For this reason, though, I wonder if these are not games which bring unnecessary risks.’

Bayern Munich CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge didn’t exactly quell the flames when he added that: ‘San Marino has got nothing to do with professional football.’ 

Today, however, has seen the tiny nation hit back, and hit back with style!

In a scathing retort released this morning, Alan Gasperoni wrote:

‘Dearest Thomas Muller, 
You’re right. The games like that on a Friday night, they’re nothing. To you. On the other hand, dear Thomas, you do not need to come to San Marino for almost nothing in a weekend in which, without the Bundesliga, you could have spent with your wife on the sofa of your luxury villa or, who knows, you could have taken part in some events organised by your sponsors to bank several thousand euros.

I believe you, but allow me to give 10 good reasons why I think the San Marino-Germany match was very useful and if could think about them, let me know your thoughts: 

1. It served to show you that not even against the teams as poor as ours can you score a goal – and don’t say you weren’t annoyed when Simoncini stopped you scoring… 

2. It served to make it clear to your managers (and even Beckenbauer and Rummenigge) that football is not owned by them but by all of those who love it, among which, like it or not, WE are included. 

3. It served to remind hundreds of journalists from all over Europe that there are still guys who follow their dreams and not your rules. 

4. It served to confirm that you Germans will never change and that history has taught you that “bullying” is not always a guarantee of victory

5. It served to show the 200 guys in San Marino who play the game for whatever reason why their coaches ask them to always work their hardest. Who knows – maybe one day all their sacrifice will be repaid with a game against the champions of the world. 

6. It allowed your Federation (and also ours) to collect the money of image rights with which, in addition to paying you for your trouble, they can build pitches for the kids of your own country, schools, and make football stadiums safer… Our Federation, I’ll let you in on a secret, is building a new football pitch in a remote village called Acquaviva. You could build it with six months of your salary, we’ll do it with the rights of 90 minutes of a game. Not bad, right? 

7. It served to a country as big as your pitch in Munich to go into the papers for a good reason, because a football match is always a good reason. 

8. It served well for your friend Gnabry, in the national team and scoring three goals. 

9. It made some Sanmarinese people a little happier to remember that we have a real national team. 

10. It’s served to make me realise that even if you wear the most beautiful adidas kits, underneath you’re always the ones that put white socks under their sandals

With love, Alan.’

= = =

Further reading

a book about the joy that football can bring to people, to rich people or to poor people!


Monday, 14 November 2016

soccer break

As a father of 2 boys and a fan of soccer myself, I can't stand mixing the beautiful sport with politics, fascism etc.
Soccer, as any sport, should be about fun and joy!
What happened last night in Athens is absolutely disgusting.
Some "fans" were holding this nationalistic banner

Nož, žica, Srebrenica
referring to this massacre that happened in 1995.

Such an action should be prohibited to happen ever again...

The "fans" that were holding this banner must not be allowed to watch ANY game for the rest of their lives.

What are FIFA and the police are going to do to tackle these brainless fans bringing nationalism, fascism and racism into soccer grounds?


Friday, 11 November 2016

teaching young minds

Leonardo Politi, photographed by his mum, Stephanie Kirchgaessner, at the olive oil tasting. Photograph: Stephanie Kirchgaessner for the Guardian

This is a beautiful story about teaching young minds!
A story that should motivate all of us as parents, teachers, mentors.
Food is not only calories, but also culture, taste and quality of life!


Friday, 4 November 2016

eggs and stroke

Eating up to one egg a day has no association with coronary heart disease (CHD) but does reduce the risk of stroke by 12%, a meta-analysis has suggested.

While reading this article, it is important to remember our preoccupation with cholesterol as discussed here.

It looks that dietary guidelines on egg consumption need revision and rather quickly...

Further reading
Hen egg yolk lipid fractions with antiatherogenic properties

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

costly mistakes

French chef Daniel Boulud’s New York restaurant DB Bistro Moderne has been fined $1.3m after a customer ingested a piece of metal wire. Photograph: Stan Honda/AFP/Getty Images

Metal wire in a burger...may cost a lot!

Daniel Boulud’s Manhattan outlet db Bistro Moderne handed $1m in punitive damages after customer swallows a length of wire...

 This is a story highlighting that applying HACCP principles is so important in protecting the brandname of a company!

Friday, 28 October 2016

Why You Should Buy Local Food: 10 Reasons

The following article is a kind contribution to this blog, by Joe Thomas

= = = = = = = = = = = = = =

1) Food grown locally tastes far better than imported produce. Yes, some vegetables might look wonky but the flavour they are bursting with surely make up for that. Locally grown food is likely to arrive on your dinner table within a few hours of being picked. The same cannot be said for those strawberries we import from Spain.

2) Not only does it taste better, local food also provides more nutrients. Farmers harvest crops at their peak making sure we get the ripest highest quality food. There is also no need to treat vegetables and fruit with chemicals or wrap them in plastic for days of transportation. Not only would you contribute to a healthier lifestyle, but you would also help the environment whilst at it.

3) Now, locally produced food comes in all shapes and sizes. This is because farmers use different varieties of crops to increase the length of harvesting cycle. These crops are not genetically modified unlike the ones being mass produced for larger retailers. This variety preserves biodiversity and ensures that species do not go extinct. Nowadays, out of thousands of apple cultivars available in the world only a few varieties make it to the big stores. Smaller farms take pride in the crops they grow and some special varieties are passed down as a family secret through generations.  That is the kind of authenticity that you would never find in a supermarket.

4) Locally grown crops are safer to eat. Cattle is reared freely on luscious green pastures while crops are fertilized by the manure those animals produce. There is no waste of resources on local farms. So why not go down to a local butcher for a nutrient-packed tender steak rather than a questionable looking chicken breast full of antibiotics and growth hormones from a supermarket?

5) Local farmers and independent businesses are working hard to make it in the world where competition is so fierce. By supporting them we preserve the authenticity and quality of the services they provide. Each one of them adds a personal touch to their produce which is only characteristic of small local businesses.

6) Invest in the community you live in. Local food is produced by your neighbours living nearby trying their best to provide best quality food all year around. It is a much more pleasant experience buying from a farmer’s market or a shop while engaging in conversation and playing an active part in your local community.

7) Local food preserves open space. If you enjoy the picturesque landscapes of the countryside, think about buying local produce to save it. By keeping local farmers in business, you ensure that our beautiful land is being used for agriculture and not sold for yet another development project.

8) Buying locally helps ecosystems in your area because carefully managed farms peacefully coexist with and preserve wildlife. Hedges, ponds and meadows that farmers look after provide natural habitats for a variety of local species. The food takes less miles to reach your plate, which reduces food miles, which in turn is much better for the environment.

9) As a rule of thumb, local farms require less of your tax to operate as they provide more in tax than they take in services. They also use less resources and manage them more effectively than larger scale operations. Think about that next time you go to a supermarket.

10) Buying locally today provides for a better tomorrow. By making this small choice you are having a positive impact on so many different aspects and ensuring that there is fresh, diverse, flavoursome food available for future generations.

Joe Thomas

talking to 12 year old children about food

This week, I was invited to talk to the 6th form students at the school that my boys attend to.
The talk was about "How to Eat Well"....

How can you make such a talk interesting and appealing?

I decided to try to create a "story", i.e. present Science as a Story!

So, I presented a story to the children: A story starting with Ancel Keys in the 50's in US and leading to the 7 countries study and finishing with Hippocrates and his famous saying about food and medicine.

In between, we all enjoyed lots of interactive questions and answers.
I was amazed by the high standard of the children. They could assess the nutritional value of most foods and they could spot most of the differences between a juice and a soft drink!
At the end of my talk, their teacher, Feargal, presented a very moving picture in words: he asked them next time they go to SM to try to spot two trolleys, one with lots of fruits and vegetables and one with processed food and soft drinks.

Then, he asked the children to have a look at the persons wheeling these troleys and ask themselves: in 20years to which one do I want to look like?

It was an amazing opportunity to speak to 12 y old students! This age is always a challenge! How to present Science in a practical way but at the same time to be ready to raise the level when a couple of boys asked me at the end about food for swimmers and for rugby players!

This day brought to my mind the phrase of Kathleen Lonsdale that features in the ground floor at Lonsdale building, here at UL,
"never miss an opportunity to speak to school children".

Special thanks are due to their teachers, Feargal and John, for giving me this chance.

Yannis Zabetakis

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Invested interests and Public Health

What is more important : Invested Interests or Public Health?
Do not rush your answer...
Read this story first...
and now... if you think that Public Health is more precious...please sign this petition.

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Is teaching mentoring or coaching?

"While mentoring comes from the experience of the mentor, leadership coaching does the opposite -- it comes from the experience of those being coached. Mentors share their experiences, but coaches prompt leaders to reflect on their experience and draw their own conclusions"

'Mentoring' and 'Leadership Coaching' Are Not the Same. Do You Know the Difference? 

At Unis, do we mentor or do we coach? or both? 

Monday, 24 October 2016

experimental design

today, at the lecture theater, we were discussing the issues of functional foods against specific diseases and how we design experiments to produce data to support claims.

Here is what we need to bear in mind
"Do It Right the First Time"

Which of the 6 words is the most important?

Monday, 17 October 2016

Crisis management in food industry : the bute scandal

The above picture was a focal point at the lecture theater today, when we discussed the "bute scandal"...

How many mistakes can you spot at the words chosen to be presented at the picture above?
Is this a passive press release?
As a customer, would you be happy to read "we are changing"?
Changing to what?

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

BPA and politics

Today at the lecture theater, we were talking about BPA and BPA-free food packaging materials.

Here are some related news

lycopene and health claims

A carotenoid-rich tomato extract (CRTE) has been found to inhibit a key process that leads to the thickening of the artery wall, which is typical of heart disease.