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Snack Size Science: Monkey Methuselahs and soy sauce

By Stephen Daniells , 21-Jul-2009
Last updated the 22-Oct-2009 at 15:40 GMT

Snack Size Science: Monkey Methuselahs and soy sauce
Snack Size Science: Monkey Methuselahs and soy sauce
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FoodNavigator's Snack Size Science brings you the week's top science. This week we look at how drastically cutting calories could keep the Grim Reaper at bay, and how soy sauce may have potential in drive to cut salt levels in foods.

The following is a transcript of this podcast:

This is FoodNavigator’s Snack Size Science. I’m Stephen Daniells - bringing you the week’s top science in digestible amounts.

This week we look at how soy sauce may replace salt in foods, but first why less is more: Research with our Simeon cousins suggests that eating less could add years to your life.

Findings of a 20-year study with rhesus monkeys, published in Science, suggested that cutting the number of calories we consume, almost to the point of malnutrition, may not only keep the Grim Reaper at bay, but also reduce the risk of developing many chronic diseases, like cancer, diabetes and heart disease.

Researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison found that 80 per cent of monkeys in the calorie restricted diet group were still alive after 20 years, but only half of the animals who were allowed to eat whatever they wanted were still swinging.

Whether such results will ever be applicable to humans remains to be seen, given the complexity of their modern lives and diets. But there are people who adhere to very strict dietary limits, and anecdotal evidence suggests they do indeed have lower rates of heart disease, so it does seem that calorie restriction may not be just monkey business.

Next, we move from cutting calories to cutting salt. Dutch researchers report that soy sauce may replace salt in a variety of foodstuffs without affecting the taste of the product.

With the food industry under pressure to cut the salt content of its formulations, scientists from Wageningen University and soy sauce giant Kikkoman report that the condiment could replace half the salt in salad dressings without compromising on flavour.

Not only that, but the salt content of soup and stir-fried pork could be slashed by 17 and 29 per cent, so say results published in the Journal of Food Science.

But how does it work? The Asian condiment may work by enhancing the perception of saltiness, making consumers think that the products are saltier than they actually are. Maybe the power of soy sauce is all in the mind.

For FoodNavigator’s Snack Size Science, I’m Stephen Daniells.

Photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net .

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