Friday, 29 September 2017

omega-3 fatty acid supplementation and CVDs : there is no link !

Today, it is crystal clear that omega-3 fatty acids do NOT lower cardiovascular risk!
The rise of doubts of the value of omega-3 fatty acids in relation to cardiovascular diseases started in 2012 with this paper

Association between omega-3 fatty acid supplementation and risk of major cardiovascular disease events: a systematic review and meta-analysis.

In 2013, in this paper
should you still recommend omega-3 supplements?

we read that 


Stop recommending omega-3 fatty acid supplements for cardiovascular protection. They have no significant impact on all-cause mortality, acute myocardial infarction, sudden death, or stroke.1

In 2014,  the last discussion paragraph of the paper

Omega-3 Supplements and Cardiovascular Diseases

is of some interest

In summary and in light of the current best evidence, we can conclude that omega-3 supplements might possibly confer cardiovascular benefits but their benefits will be minimal, if any. We are also unsure if there is a subset of patients that would benefit most from this supplementation. Further ongoing investigations could be helpful in that regard. And finally, would the current best evidence lend support to widespread use of omega-3 supplements for primary or secondary CVD prevention? Our answer given the existing evidence would be “no”. Why not starting with the well-balanced Mediterranean diet, instead?

Finally, in 2016,
in the paper
Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid supplementation in the prevention of cardiovascular disease

we can read that 

Knowledge into Practice

  • Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) have a variety of purported effects that are thought to lower the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD).
  • Based on clinical trial data, omega-3 PUFA supplements lower serum triglyceride levels but do not affect serum low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels.
  • Multiple large, randomized, placebo-controlled trials have shown no benefit with omega-3 PUFA supplements for the primary prevention of CVD.
  • There appears to be no benefit with omega-3 PUFA supplements for the secondary prevention of CVD when added to guideline-based pharmacotherapy in both the early and late period after a myocardial infarction.
  • Many pharmacies stock omega-3 PUFA supplements. Therefore, pharmacists are ideally situated to engage patients in a discussion specifically about the lack of CVD benefit with omega-3 PUFAs, as well as the potential adverse effects.
    = = =
    To conclude, we need to reconsider our practice by taking into account:
    1. the side effects of statins as presented here
    2. the cardioprotective effects of food polar lipids as discussed here.

Bread and Poetry

from twitter...this morning...

We now give an Irish poem about bread . The poem by adds so much to the experience of eating our bread.

Monday, 25 September 2017

fat vs lean fish

High intake of fatty fish, but not of lean fish, improved postprandial glucose regulation and increased the n-3 PUFA content in the leucocyte membrane in healthy overweight adults: a randomised trial

The findings suggest that high intake of fatty fish, but not of lean fish, beneficially affected postprandial glucose regulation in overweight/obese adults, and may therefore prevent or delay the development of T2D in this population.

= = =

fatty fish is definitely the answer here...
Fatty fish that is rich in .... ? 

on inflammation and ...fat tummies

Inflammation is the problem...not the fat tummy...

the following text is a comment that I just posted at this story

"Is it possible to reverse Type 2 diabetes?"

= = =
It is rather simplistic the view of Prof Lean who says "the easiest indicator of someone at risk of type 2 diabetes is a fat tummy". What about all the thin people with DT2 ? ? The driving force of DT2 is inflammation. Medical doctors need to have a more holistic view on tackling inflammation since inflammation is the trigger to a plethora of diseases like DT2, cancer, CVDs, high blood pressure and obesity. Chronic diseases need holistic approaches...not just looking at a "fat tummy".

More info here and here 

Sunday, 24 September 2017

onwards Ithaka

when you set up on your voyage to Ithaka, pray that the road is long; full of adventure ; full of knowledge!

Having good friends and excellent students on my quest to Ithaka makes the trip much more enjoyable and worth living.

I am (kind of) God blessed to have the luck to collaborate with great PhD students (I had 4 in Athens who are now 4 Dr in Lemnos (Angie), in Santorini (Panagiotis, aka koutsobox), in Athens (Sotiris aka Mastro-Sotos and in Gent (Eleni) and one so far in UL...

I am always delighted hearing their news!

Last week was amazing: Angie was elected to Assistant Professor in the Univ. of Aegean and Eleni secured a new post-doc in Gent !

Tip of the hat to Angie and Eleni; very well done Drs Nasopoulou and Sioriki!!

Your proud Teacher  

Yannis Zabetakis

p.s. Ronan, the future can only be bright :)

Friday, 22 September 2017

PhD Vacancies

The Research Group of Industrial Microbiology and Food Biotechnology (IMDO) wants to acquire
Five PhD students
to perform doctoral studies. Each of these collaborators will contribute to an internally or externally financed research project. It concerns the following subjects and projects:
1) Interaction of lactic acid bacteria and yeasts during sourdough fermentation
2) Inter-relationships between the quality of the flour, sourdough and bread produced thereof
3) Field-cereal-flour-sourdough-bread axis regarding microbial species diversity
4) Cocoa bean fermentations initiated with selected starter cultures
5) Large-scale genome sequence data mining to unravel the functionality of single bacterial species and whole microbial ecosystems involved in food fermentation processes

For more information on the topics, see this pdf document.

Related info is here.

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

novel research: olives and weigh loss

Oleuropein, a natural product derived from olive leaves, has reported anti-diabetic functions. However, detailed molecular mechanisms for how it affects β-cell functions remain poorly understood. Here, we present evidence that oleuropein promotes glucose-stimulated insulin secretion (GSIS) in β-cells. The effect is dose-dependent and stimulates the ERK/MAPK signaling pathway. We further demonstrated that oleuropein inhibits the cytotoxicity induced by amylin amyloids, a hallmark feature of type 2 diabetes. We demonstrated that these dual functions are structure-specific: we identified the 3-hydroxytyrosol moiety of oleuropein as the main functional entity responsible for amyloid inhibition, but the novel GSIS function requires the entire structure scaffold of the molecule.

[full paper is here]

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Mining and Arsenic @ #skouries : update

Christos Adamidis thinks the risk of an earthquake is being downplayed and wants to know why that is  

Fear of environmental damage
Ever since, the people of Ierissos have felt abandoned. Yet their objections – to the plans made by a government heavily dependent on investment, and to the Canadian company – are certainly worthy of discussion.
A short time ago Eldorado threatened to pull out of Greece altogether if Athens refused permission for it to continue working in Skouries.
The focus of the conflict is a metal production technique known as "flash smelting." This enables pure gold to be obtained from the raw material produced – and Eldorado is contractually obliged to do this. The problem is that the raw material contains arsenic.
"Flash smelting is only suitable for raw material with a low arsenic content," explains the physicist Maria Kadoglou. "But in the case of the two mines in Skouries and Olympiada, the arsenic concentration is over 9 percent."
During the flash smelting process, arsenic dust is released into the air – as much as 20,000 tons a year. The maximum permitted level is 20 kilos. There are no technologies to purify the air, says Kadoglou.
Read more: European natural sites at risk despite protection


Human activities which intensify the release of arsenic

A number of human activities have the potential to increase arsenic concentrations in the air, water, and soil on a local scale. [1] The rate of arsenic release from sulphide minerals can be sped up by mining activities, which expose the minerals to weathering processes during excavation. [1] Arsenic dust is produced during copper and gold smelting, and coal combustion. [8] The direct application of arsenic in the form of pesticides or wood preservatives has historically been a major source of arsenic to soils. [1] Freshwaters and associated ecosystems may be impacted by arsenic runoff from contaminated sites, but groundwater contamination as a result of human activity is rare, as arsenic is strongly attracted to soil particles and sediments. [1] In contrast, it is the natural release of arsenic from geologic materials which has become a threat to drinking water supplies around the world. [5]

The environmental legacy of historic Pb-Zn-Ag-Au mining in river basins of the southern edge of the Massif Central (France)

= = =

Our present view, as published 4 years ago...

Gold is undrinkable, water in Skouries might soon be too

What is about to happen in #skouries overrides scientific findings. In contrast to the easily disproved Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), the truth is that gold mining from open mines in the area is simply hazardous to the environment, the people, the water, the flora and fauna…

Caveat Emptor!

A very interesting and rather intriguing paper on omega-3 fatty acids and fish was published last May in Clinical Nutrition: the authors have reviewed literature with regard to the supplementation of omega-3 LC-PUFAs  

Previous evidence stated that high doses omega-3 LC-PUFAs produce a small but significant decrease in blood pressure in older and hypertensive subjects.

Due to the increasing interest in the benefits of LC-PUFAs, the authors aimed to evaluate the scientific evidence provided in the past five years (2012–2016) on the effects of the intake of omega-3 LC-PUFAs on cardiovascular risk factors such as inflammation and oxidative stress, through a systematic review in PubMed database.

28 articles were related to cardiovascular disease (CVD) and are included in this systematic review. The studies included healthy subjects and CVD patients; we included the number of subjects, type of study, type and doses of omega-3 LC-PUFAs, primary outcomes, and results.

The use of omega-3 LC-PUFAs for ameliorating CVD risk factors can be recommended. However, the administration of omega-3 does not seem to show any benefit for the management of CVD or associated complications (Rangel-Huerta and Gil).

However, the devil is always hidden in the tiny details. Having a closer look at this paper and especially table 3, it can be seen that the authors compare head-to-head studies where pure omega-3 fatty acids were supplemented to humans to studies where fish was consumed.

Despite the fact, that this comparison is not unusual in literature; we have some scientific concerns whether this is the right way of evaluating the cardioprotective properties of fish.

Read the full article, HERE.

Thursday, 14 September 2017

Novel research paper: Dietary calcium intake and risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke, and fracture in a population with low calcium intake

Higher calcium intake was associated with decreased cardiovascular (CV) event risk in Korean women, according to a recent study in American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Are the markers we use in cardiovascular prognosis correct?

Are the markers we use in cardiovascular prognosis correct?
Very difficult question...with no easy answer.
Some related papers that have been recently published tend to point towards a negative answer to the question.

1. Saturated fats, dairy foods and health: A curious paradox?
2. Ω-3 index as a prognosis tool in cardiovascular disease
3. Discrepancy between knowledge and perceptions of dietary omega-3 fatty acid intake compared with the omega-3 index

so...which markers should we use instead? what about polar lipids? (dairy, marine)

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

A pint a day...

Drinking one pint a day has been linked to reduced risk of developing several serious heart conditions in new large-scale study.

the full story is here and the research paper here.

Monday, 11 September 2017

food safety and microbial growth

and now...
let's compare the intrinsic factors of:

1. almonds / strawberries
2. mussels / fish fillet
3. milk / yogurt

Sunday, 10 September 2017

on teaching and friendship

Britain's Prince George accompanied by Britain's Prince William (L) arrives at his new school; where he has to pay 18k GBP / pa but he can't have a best friend!!!

one of the most interesting weekend reads:on Aristotle, friendship and teaching.

"To want a best friend is both natural and good. That’s been noted ever since Aristotle wrote about what makes for a flourishing life in his Nicomachean Ethics. Friendship was central. He concluded that a person may have everything else that life can offer – money, family, purpose, values – but that they would feel they lacked something essential if they hadn’t, at some point, experienced the great joy of soulmateship.
He realised that human beings are social creatures. We’re people of the polis. We do well when we live well together. Friendship is a crucial part of that, he continued, because it’s in the context of intimate friendships that we best learn what it is to attend to others, not only ourselves. This care can become a habit that spills out in ever widening circles to extend across the community.

It is, therefore, wrong to think that forbidding best friends prevents playground bullying and loneliness. If anything, it could promote the opposite. How else can individuals learn the tremendous value of reaching out, of acting kindly?"

= = =
Thinking, now, of the wider picture, let's try to remember our school years: did we/you make any good friends then? probably yes! So, how bad/backward/[insert here any negative word you like] is a school that asks you not to make "best" friends?
Likewise to Mark Vermon, I do feel pity for Prince Goerge... He may be a Prince (on paper) but this does not mean that the royal etiquette will make his life easier...probably the opposite... :(

Thursday, 7 September 2017


Getting ready for my first lecture in FT4421 "Introductory Food Science and Health",
one of my favorite poems of C.P. Cavafy comes to mind...(the highlights are mine).

Constantinos Petrou Cavafy

Cavafy wrote this poem at the beginning of 20th century in Alexandria, Egypt.
He makes references to Ulysses (Odysseus) voyage to Ithaka, after the 10years long Trojan War...
It is a poem that could assist us viewing Education (BSc years and ....beyond) as a voyage to (our own) Ithaka!

Statue of Odysseus, in Stavros, on the Greek island of Ithaca. - Stock

Yannis Zabetakis


As you set out for Ithaka
hope the voyage is a long one,
full of adventure, full of discovery.
Laistrygonians and Cyclops,
angry Poseidon—don’t be afraid of them
you’ll never find things like that on your way
as long as you keep your thoughts raised high,
as long as a rare excitement
stirs your spirit and your body.
Laistrygonians and Cyclops,
wild Poseidon—you won’t encounter them
unless you bring them along inside your soul,
unless your soul sets them up in front of you.

Hope the voyage is a long one.
May there be many a summer morning when,
with what pleasure, what joy,
you come into harbors seen for the first time;
may you stop at Phoenician trading stations
to buy fine things,
mother of pearl and coral, amber and ebony,
sensual perfume of every kind—
as many sensual perfumes as you can;
and may you visit many Egyptian cities
to gather stores of knowledge from their scholars.

Keep Ithaka always in your mind.
Arriving there is what you are destined for.

But do not hurry the journey at all.
Better if it lasts for years,
so you are old by the time you reach the island,
wealthy with all you have gained on the way,
not expecting Ithaka to make you rich.

Ithaka gave you the marvelous journey.

Without her you would not have set out.
She has nothing left to give you now.

And if you find her poor, Ithaka won’t have fooled you.
Wise as you will have become, so full of experience,
you will have understood by then what these Ithakas mean. 

Translated by Edmund Keeley/Philip Sherrard
(C.P. Cavafy, Collected Poems. Translated by Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherrard. Edited by George Savidis. Revised Edition. Princeton University Press, 1992)   

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Eat well, study better

Student brain food : eat well, study better

Lauren Lucien author.
Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire : Palgrave Macmillan 2013
Drawing on the author's own experience as a student, this cookbook shows how good nutrition and eating help boost stamina and academic performance. Over 100 affordable and easy to make recipes are accompanied by full-colour photographs. Included is advice on food hygiene, nutrition and how to food shop on a budget.
Bibliography, etc. Note: Includes bibliographical references and index.
Location at UL library
  • Glucksman Library   Open Shelves   641.563 LUC  

Towards Sustainable Aquafeeds: Complete Substitution of Fish Oil ? is this feasible?

On our quest to completely substitute Fish Oil in aquafeeds, this is an interesting research development:

Towards Sustainable Aquafeeds: Complete Substitution of Fish Oil with Marine Microalga Schizochytrium sp. Improves Growth and Fatty Acid Deposition in Juvenile Nile Tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus)

The authors claim that: "Results show that replacing fish oil with DHA-rich marine Sc improves the deposition of n3 LC PUFA levels in tilapia fillet. These results support further studies to lower Schizochytrium production costs and to combine different marine microalgae to replace fish oil and fishmeal into aquafeeds"

the moving power of football

Syria’s players celebrate after their 2-2 draw in Iran secured in the final minute which secured them a play-off place against Australia. Photograph: Abedin Taherkenareh/EPA

on this blog, apart from functional food, we love sports and

This is truly moving story that happened last night!

Syria will play Australia in a two-match Asian series next month. To make the World Cup, the winner will then have to beat a team from the Concacaf confederation covering north and central America, and the Caribbean. Syria will likely play their ‘home’ match against Australia in Malaysia, as they have during Asian qualifying, due to the ongoing war.
“This is the happiest day of my life,” said Bashir Rahal, a 26-year old, who was watching the game in a Damascus hotel, with the country’s flag on a table in front of him.

This is a story that brings to mind Bill Shankly, the pioneer who brought Joy to the Fans, who made people happy! 

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Irish Wine Industry

The Irish Wine Association (IWA) has released its annual report, offering a view on the state of the industry in the country for 2017. The figures show continued sales growth and indicate the preferences of consumers as well as the impact of the wine trade for the Irish economy.
Here are 5 things you need to know about this year’s IWA report…
1. Ireland Has the Highest Excise Duty on Wine in the EU
At €3.19, the country’s excise on wine is 106 times higher than France’s (€0.3), and also the highest in the continent. The association has called for this tax to be reduced, pointing out that it translates in high prices in wine that ultimately affect the tourism, hospitality and retail sectors.
2. Chilean Wine is the Most Popular
Wines from Chile are the best-selling in the country, with 25.6% of market share. Australia took the second place with 17.7% followed by France with 12.9%. The rest of the top 5 is comprised of Spain with 12.3% and Italy with 9.7%.
3. The Wine Industry Creates 1,100 Direct Jobs in Ireland
Besides the 1,100 people working directly in the Irish wine industry, there are 13,000 workers in restaurants, pubs and hotels which sell and serve wine.
4. Ireland Prefers White Wine by a Small Margin
White wine is the most popular, with 50% of consumers preferring it, followed closely by red, with 47%. Rosé only gets 3%.
5. Sales of Wine in Ireland Keep Going Up
On 2016, a total of €380 million were collected in excise receipts, which represents an increase of 7.4% compared to 2015, when the contribution reached €355 million.

[ source ]

teaching at UL - the dark side of meat science

Today, at the lecture on Food Quality, FT4447, we discussed the dark side of meat science.

Here is some further reading material

1.  Eating Animals

2. Animal Factory

3. [for a bit more "neutral" approach... ] The Omnivore's dilemma

Monday, 4 September 2017

a Chlorella vulgaris diet for salmon

photo from
 Chlorella vulgaris is one of the most studied microalga for industrial applications and it could be added to the diet of Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar L.) as new research suggests.

  • Apparent digestibility of Atlantic salmon diets containing two C. vulgaris meals at five levels was determined.
  • Single-ingredient apparent digestibility coefficients for C. vulgaris meals are reported for Atlantic salmon.
  • Essential amino acid indices are high (0.87–0.89) for whole-cell and cell-ruptured C. vulgaris meals.
  • Digestibility of essential amino acids is high (83–95%) for cell-ruptured C. vulgaris meal.
  • Inclusion of cell-ruptured C. vulgaris meal increased dietary carbohydrate and starch digestibility by up to 20%.