Monday, 27 February 2017

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Statins: good for the heart?

there are quite few different readings of this graph...
One can claim that statins save 19,200 lives pa, which is great!
Another can claim that 98% of people without known heart diseases and 96% of people with known heart disease do not get any benefit...
In fact, 10% in both groups of people face the risk of diabetes and 2% in both groups risk muscle damage...

So... do we need to re-evaluate?

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Sutton pies and bets: what the FA should really ask?

This story is so entertaining! [btw, this photo is a photo of a goalkeeper, believe or not...]

The story goes on and we now know that the
Football Association and Gambling Commission are investigating after Sutton United’s reserve goalkeeper Wayne Shaw admitted that he knew a betting company was offering odds of 8-1 against him eating a pie on the bench during the club’s 2-0 defeat by Arsenal in the FA Cup.

“I went and got it at half time from the kitchen, I had it all prepared and ready to go. It was meat and potato,” added Shaw.

However, from a sports nutrition and food science point of view, the real questions here:

1. is a pie with meat and potato a nutritious one?

2. why are footballers allowed to eat such low quality food on camera?

The issue here is not about betting...but about athletes eating junk food in public.

But yet again, we all remember A-class footballers or ex-footballers advertising junk food, as crisps, soft drinks (photo above) etc...


Monday, 20 February 2017

Τρόφιμα: Ο δούρειος ίππος για την καινοτομία και την ανάπτυξη

30 ευρώ το κιλό...
Η πλειονότητα του λεσβιακού ελαιολάδου πωλείται «χύμα» έως και προς 2 ευρώ / κιλό σε Ιταλούς και Ισπανούς, οι οποίοι το συσκευάζουν και το μεταπωλούν (ως ιταλικό ή ισπανικό, φευ!) με τελική τιμή για τον καταναλωτή έως και 30 ευρώ / κιλό (ναι! Το είδα με τα ίδια μου τα μάτια σε μια κωμόπολη έξω από το Παρίσι πριν από λίγες εβδομάδες).

 = = =

Με την ευχή να βρεθούν λίγοι τολμηροί να αναπτύξουν τις εξαγωγές τροφίμων!
Με την ευχή μέσα στο 2017 να έρθουν ελιές και κρασί από την Πατρίδα εδώ στην Ιρλανδία!

Dum spiro spero...


a new book!

Last semester I was teaching FT4457 at UL


and the essay that my students had to write and present was on

"Statins vs Dietary Interventions: a true dilemma?".

I had the opportunity to read some exciting and provoking essays from my students.

This year, I am going to take this further and I am going to write a book for a top publisher on statins and nutrition and cardiovascular diseases (CVDs).

With some many news and much information on statins and their side effects on one hand and nutrition on the other hand, I think that this book would be a great chance to provide a food chemical/biochemical insight into these issues.

watch this space as the book is being written.


Friday, 17 February 2017

managing - teaching - coaching - mentoring

The scene is taken from "Dead Poets Society" where the students tribute to their teacher Mr. Keating (Robin Williams) who taught them think different, to seize the day (carpe diem) and to stand up for what is right.

Thursday, 16 February 2017

let's talk about Cancer

Different faces of inflammation and its role in tumorigenesis

Inflammation and cancer: How hot is the link?

Food, stress and environment can actually cause inflammation and ...cancer.

Related reading : Cancer death rate in Mulhuddart ‘nearly three times’ higher than Castleknock

Nine “myths” about cancer, according to Dr Robert O’Connor

1 – Modern life

“That modern life is toxic and causing cancer and that modern life and the things in our environment are causing cancers – it’s not. Mankind has always had cancer and it’s a fact that as we live longer there is a greater risk of developing any form of cancer.”

5 – Superfoods

“There’s no such thing, they’ve no relevance in terms of preventing or treating cancer.”

= = = 

there is plenty of scientific evidence that 1 and 5 are not "myths" actually!

for 1, have a look here. (e.g. air pollution)
 the list here is endless, from heavy metals in food to water and sea pollution, food contact materials (FCM) migrating to food etc...

For 5, have a look below and here


Foods that fight inflammation

Doctors are learning that one of the best ways to quell inflammation lies not in the medicine cabinet, but in the refrigerator.

the Explorers Marine Education Programme

The Marine Institute's has announced that over five hundred teachers and 15,000 primary school children will benefit from its Explorers Education Programme this year. Recent expansion in funding has enabled outreach centres in ten counties around Ireland, to triple the number of teachers and children being introduced to marine themes in the classroom.

Free lesson plans, teachers resources and more information about the Explorers Education Programme™ is available here 

Explorer science lesson plans and activities relating to the marine are available in the following strands.  

A selection of Explorer science lesson plans are also available through Irish.  

Science icon.Junior Infants Class and Seniors Infants Class 

Strand: MaterialsStrand Unit: Materials and ChangeDesigning and Making a Dry Suit for Scuba SteveThe aim of the lesson plan is for the children to identify some materials that are waterproof.

Science icon.First Class and Second Class 

Strand: MaterialsStrand Unit: Materials and ChangeBeach Towels - What Material Works BestThe aim of the lesson plan is for the children to identify and investigate materials that absorb water.
Strand: Energy and Forces
Strand Unit: Magnetism and Electricity
Exploring Materials which will protect Scuba Steve from Electric Fish
The aim of the lesson plan is for children to identify materials that allow electricity to pass through them. Experiments and demonstrations are to be conducted by the teacher. Students will become aware of the dangers of electricity as well as learn about animals in the ocean that conduct electricity.


Science icon.Third Class and Fourth Class 

Strand: Energy and ForcesStrand Unit: Magnetism and ElectricityDesign and Make a CompassThe aim of the lesson plan is for the children to explore relationships between magnets and compasses.
Strand:Energy and Forces
Strand Unit: Forces
Density Experiment: What Floats and Sinks and Why?
The aim of the lesson plan is for the children to investigate floating and sinking with a range of materials and objects. The students should make and test predictions about objects that will sink or float and group objects based on these criteria. The students will also develop an understanding of density and how fish swim in the ocean.

Science icon.Fifth Class and Six Class 

Strand: Living Things 
Strand Unit: Plants and Animals
Seashore Exploration and Guided TourThe teacher and children will conduct a field trip on the seashore exploring the plants and animal life.  Working scientifically the children will learn about the variety and characteristics of living things and processes of life typically found on the seashore.
Strand: Living Things
Strand Unit: Plants and Animals
Plant and Animal Life on the Seashore - Creating a Seashore, Species and Seaweed Guide
The aim of the lesson plan is for the children to learn about the seashore, tides and tidal zones; the various living conditions of the animals; and the variety of species and characteristics of the animals and plants that live on the seashore. The children will create their own seashore guidebook by researching and recording information about the seashore, types of seashores, seashore zones, plants and species.
* Note: The activities included in the lesson plan can be conducted over a course of study.
Strand: Living Things 
Strand Unit: Plants and AnimalsSquid Dissection and Project lesson plan and worksheetThe children will be provided with an introduction to the life process of a squid. See the teachers resources for the 'Squid Dissection' Presentation.  The children will learn about the external and internal parts of a squid. The children will also explore some of the ways squid have adapted to environmental conditions as well as discuss simple food chains.  As an extension the children may complete a project on the different types of squid found in the ocean.

Strand: Energy and ForcesStrand Unit: Sound
Exploring Communication and Echolocation in Cetaceans
The aim of the lesson plan is for the children to explore how sound travels through materials.

Strand: Energy and ForcesStrand Unit: Heat / Forces
Ocean Currents and Water Density
The aim of the lesson plan is for the children to learn about water density and what causes ocean currents. The children will become familiar with the features and movement of currents as well as understand the effects of currents on the planet (e.g. how the ocean affects our climate and weather).
* Note: These experiments can be conducted over a course of study.

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

coffee and cardiovascular health

  •  Let's talk about coffee / καφέ 
  • Many prospective cohort studies looking at coffee consumption and cardiovascular disease (CVD) suggest that a moderate intake of coffee – 3-5 cups per day – may provide protection against CVD mortality risk.
  • Most of the studies reviewing the association between coffee consumption and stroke have suggested that drinking coffee is associated with a reduced risk of stroke, particularly in women.
  • No statistically significant association is seen for atrial fibrillation and caffeine consumption from coffee.
more information is here.

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

06/02/2017: The new food pyramid in Ireland: why has fish been ignored?

by Ioannis Zabetakis

In Ireland, the Department of Health keeps dietary recommendations under review as part of its role in promoting evidence-based public health
Ioannis Zabetakis

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 and has been published early last December.

Healthy Food for Life is a toolkit, which includes a new Food Pyramid and guidance materials to help people make choices to maintain a healthy, balanced diet.

The resources reflect best national and international evidence and advice.

The guidance applies for everyone from five years of age upwards.

It is rather regretful that my first op-Ed article for the New Year needs to be critical against some points of the new Food Pyramid.

Let me analyse where two big problems of the new pyramid exist. The first problem is around the grouping of fats and oils and the other one is grouping meat with fish.

In detail: Fats and oils: according to the new version of the Food Pyramid in Ireland, all fats, spreads and oils are grouped in the same group. In other words, the nutritional value of rapeseed, olive, canola, sunflower and corn oils is the same as spreads, mayonnaise and salad dressings! This is a grave scientific mistake.

Read more HERE.

Read the full article HERE.

on the value of ...urine

Little Boy Peeing the Pi Symbol in Snow (courtesy Freaking

"What a lot of Australians have is very expensive urine"...

why is that happening?

well we know that vitamin supplements contain water-soluble vitamins, being water-soluble they can not be stored in our bodies, any excess is going down the drain...via vitamin-rich urine.

Read the full story here 

p.s. message to remember...

“What you need is a good diet, you’re pissing the money down the toilet for no benefit”

Thursday, 9 February 2017

doodle4google : please support Laura and our school

I love music and I play the piano and the violin. It is fun to create music using different instruments and to share the magic of music with others.
Laura O'Brien, Scoil Seanain Naofa Clonlara County Clare : I love music and I play the piano and the violin. It is fun to create music using different instruments and to share the magic of music with others.  

Scoil Seanáin Naofa

Attention All!
We have a Winner!
Laura O'Brien, 1st Class at our school, has won through to the Voting Stage of Doodle4Google competition.
We are asking you to please vote for her doodle online.
This is how:

1.Go to the doodle4google page here
2.Click group 2.
3. Click to Laura O'Brien's doodle (musical instruments)
4. Click vote

Please, make sure you click first Laura's doodle and then vote!

Voting has begun and closes on 21st February.
Our school will win €10,000 Technology Grant if Laura is the overall winner!

Thank You!
Le Meas,

Ms Burns and Mr O'Connell 

 (copied here by Ioannis Zabetakis)

 = = = = = = =

Scoil Seanáin Naofa

Η Laura O'Brien, μαθήτρια της πρώτης τάξης στο σχολείο μας έχει περάσει στα τελικά της ψηφοφορίας doodle4google.
Θα θέλαμε να σας ζητήσουμε να υποστηρίξετε την Laura και το σχολείο μας ψηφίζοντας το doodle της Laura!

1. Πηγαίνετε στη σελίδα doodle4google εδώ
2.Επιλέξτε κάνοντας κλικ στο group 2.
3. Επιλέξτε με κλικ το doodle της Laura O'Brien (μουσικά όργανα)
4. Ψηφίστε κάνοντας κλικ στο vote

Επιλέξτε πρώτα το doodle της Laura και μετά ψηφίστε!

Η ψηφοφορία έχει ξεκινήσει και τελειώνει στις 21 Φλεβάρη.

Το σχολείο μας θα κερδίσει €10,000 Technology Grant (Υποτροφία για Τεχνολογική Υποδομή) αν η Laura είναι η τελική νικήτρια!

Σας Ευχαριστούμε!

Ms Burns and Mr O'Connell  

(και για την αντιγραφή, Γιάννης Ζαμπετάκης)


Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Let's talk about fermented drinks

This is an old paper that I am using in teaching...
It offers a rather "fundamental" (with limitations) view on assessing nutritional values.
The paper compares beer, milk, orange juice and a sports drink.

Further recent research has shown that low-to-moderate alcohol consumption (particularly of wine or beer) is associated with a decrease in cardiovascular events and mortality, compared with abstention.

So, we need to remember that 1-2 units of red wine or dark beer per day are actually beneficial!

Monday, 6 February 2017

Let's talk about milk and yogurts

In milk industry, there are 3 main players: Cow, Goat and Sheep.

In nutritional value, we all know that the BEST milk is the human milk for two main reasons:
a. human milk contain natural anti-bodies that boost the baby's immune system and
b. the amino acid profile of human's milk is very similar to what we need as humans.

The other three milks, though, how do they compare?

When comparing solid, fat, protein and calcium contents along with calories, it is useful to have in mind the following table.

Composition of different kinds of milk

% solids
% Fat
% protein
calcium (mg)
calories (kcal)
Source: The nutritional value of sheep milk by George F. W. Haenlein              

But, when we want to compare the nutritional value of milks and yogurts, we need to assess their individual impact against a particular biochemical factor.

In our work, we assess the lipids of each food sample against the aggregation of platelets, using a machine called "platelet aggregometer" and we calculate the IC 50  values of all samples. 

IC50 stands for Inhibitory Concentration 50 and the lower it is the more active is this fraction against inflammation and the development of CardioVascular Diseases (CVDs). 

So, we studied the TL (total lipids) and TPL (total polar lipids) of 3 yogurt samples - made from cow's, goat's and sheep's milk.
We assessed TL and TPL for their ability to inhibit the PAF-induced washed platelet aggregation (IC50). The corresponding results for biological activity are expressed in micrograms (μg) for the TL and TPL fractions of all yogurt samples and are presented in Fig. 1.
Fig. 1
Fig. 1.
In vitro biological activities of total lipids (TL) and total polar lipids (TPL) of cow, ewe and goat yogurts towards washed rabbit platelet aggregation, expressed in micrograms of TL and TPL. Washed rabbit platelet concentration was approximately 500,000 platelets μL −1. The final concentration of PAF in the cuvette was 2.5 × 10−11 M. The experimental analyses were carried out in triplicate (n = 3).
According to Fig. 1, both the TL and TPL fractions of all three yogurt samples have been found to exert inhibitory activity, thus, it could be suggested that these fractions contain lipids that act as PAF inhibitors. 

The IC50 values for the TL and TPL goat yogurt samples (33.0 μg and 15.4 μg, respectively), were found to be significantly lower (p < 0.05) compared to the values for ewe yogurt (43.1 μg and 27.2 μg, respectively) and cow yogurt (45.4 μg and 40.8 μg, respectively) ( Fig. 1). 

At this point, it should be emphasized that the lower the IC50 value, the stronger the anti-thrombotic potency of the lipid fraction, since less amount of lipid is required to exert 50% inhibition of the PAF-induced washed platelet aggregation. 

According to Fig. 1, the TPL of goat and ewe yogurt have been found to exhibit the strongest in vitro anti-thrombotic activity.

We have also compared the sensory properties of these yogurts.
Fig. 4
Fig. 2.
Comparison of sensory profiles of cow, ewe and goat yogurt samples. The scores for a) taste b) aftertaste and c) texture attributes are given as spider-web plots.

The sheep yogurt sample has been found to rate significantly higher for the taste attributes of “fatty”, “rich”, “delicious”, and “whey” and for the texture attribute “‘grainy”’.
On the other hand, the goat yogurt sample has been found to rate significantly higher for the attribute of “sour” for taste, the attributes of “persistent”, “intense”, and “goaty” for the aftertaste and the attributes of “velvety”, “smooth” and “fluid” for the texture.
The cow yogurt samples have been found to rate significantly higher only for the aftertaste attribute of “sweet”.

Up to now, all our data, suggest that sheep and goat yogurts and cheeses have strong cardioprotective properties and this is a fact that we can include in our every day choice of yogurts and cheeses. 

We are now investigating the lipid profiles of these yogurts and how we can enrich them in “heart healthy fats” (these are what in food chemistry we call “polar lipids”) that are active against platelet aggregation and therefore the onset of CVDs.
On going work, funded by Enterprise Ireland, in the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Limerick, is on yogurts and how lipolysis affects the cardioprotective properties of the final products.  

Ioannis Zabetakis

Further reading 
1. Evaluation of sensory and in vitro anti-thrombotic properties of traditional Greek yogurts derived from different types of milk
2. Evaluation of the in vitro anti-atherogenic activities of goat milk and goat dairy products

P.S. Siobhan is definitely not an ordinary sheep!

Friday, 3 February 2017

cancer, obesity and the importance of a balanced diet

Cancer rates will climb nearly six times faster in women than in men over the next 20 years, according to the latest figures released today by Cancer Research UK.
It is projected that UK cancer rates will increase by around half a per cent for men and by around three per cent for women.

This will mean that by 2035 an estimated 4.5 million women and 4.8 million men will be diagnosed with cancer in the 20 year period.

Smoking and obesity are part of the reason for the faster rising rates for women as several of the obesity-related cancer types only affect women.

The latest figures also show the global burden of cancer has reached an estimated 7.4 million men and an estimated 6.7 million women being diagnosed worldwide each year.
Cancer is the leading cause of death in the world accounting for an estimated 8.2 million deaths in 2012 and around 15 per cent of all deaths.

  = = =
What we try to do in our research in UL can be described as follows.
We work on the link of food lipids to inflammation and the related onset of Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs).
Our current research projects include the valorisation of food industry by-products in the development of novel functional animal and fish feeds against CVDs and the assessment of anti-inflammatory activities of Irish dairy and aquacultured products (e.g. milk, yogurt, cheese and salmon). 
The focus of our team is towards:
1. the sustainable production of functional food against inflammation.
2. the development of novel nutraceuticals against CVDs.

Ioannis Zabetakis 

Recent publications

2.   Megson IL, Whitfield PD, Zabetakis I (2016) Lipids and cardiovascular disease: where does
dietary intervention sit alongsidestatin therapy? Food Funct 7 2603-2614.
3.   Megalemou K, Sioriki E, Lordan R, Dermiki M, Nasopoulou C, Zabetakis I (2017) Evaluation of sensory
Heliyon  3 e00227.