Science Shorts: Asian vs Western foods, coconut oil for COVID-19, plant-based production and more feature in our round-up

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Asian vs Western foods, coconut oil for COVID-19, plant-based production and more food science and technology stories feature in this edition of Science Shorts. ©Getty Images
Asian vs Western foods, coconut oil for COVID-19, plant-based production and more food science and technology stories feature in this edition of Science Shorts. ©Getty Images

Related tags: Food science, Technology

Asian vs Western foods, coconut oil for COVID-19, plant-based production and more food science and technology stories feature in this edition of Science Shorts.

‘Urban myth’: Asian foods are unhealthier than Western fast foods - Singapore study

A new Singapore study claims to have disproved the ‘urban myth’ that an Asian diet is healthier than a Western one​, especially in terms of saturated fat, sodium and cholesterol.

The study was conducted by the Clinical Nutrition Research Centre (CNRC) in Singapore, and involved 25 of the most popular local Asian foods (from Chinese, Malay and Indian cuisine) as well as 29 Western fast foods.

All the foods were examined for energy, total fat, saturated fat, sodium, and cholesterol content based on their respective serving sizes. The types of foods examined were selected based on interviews and questionnaires to find the most commonly-consumed local items.

Coconut and COVID-19: Philippines studying antiviral properties of coconut oil as potential treatment

The Philippines is looking to study virgin coconut oil (VCO) as a potential treatment ​for the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) which has since infected more than 80,000 people and killed more than 2,800 worldwide.

There is currently no vaccine or specific antiviral treatment for COVID-19. Now researchers in The Philippines are testing VCO, according to Dr Jaime Montoya, executive director of the Philippine Council on Health Research and Development of the Department of Science and Technology (PCHRD-DOST).

The PCHRD-DOST had announced on February 7 that it would test a “functional food” in infected patients with COVID-19 which Dr. Montoya confirmed in late February was coconut oil.

Plant-based Veego: Government-backed firm launches Singapore’s first local alternative protein production facility

Singaporean agri-food firm Life3 Biotech is setting up the country’s first local plant-based protein production facility​ backed by the Singaporean Food Agency (SFA), with plans to scale up production later this year.

The first product that will be produced by this manufacturing facility will be Veego, a plant-based ingredient made from blend of legumes, grains, fungi and other whole foods.

“These ingredients were specially selected [to provide] high nutritional quality in protein and fibre, as well as low in fats. Veego contains no artificial colouring or flavouring and is free from any preservatives,”​ Life3 Biotech Founder Ricky Lin told FoodNavigator-Asia​.

Fold with it: Oasis and Tetra Pak unveils sustainable water carton packaging in UAE

UAE’s food and beverage manufacturer National Food Products Company (NFPC) has launched its Oasis brand of drinking water in sustainable Tetra Pak carton packaging​, the first water brand in the region to do so.

The water is available in 330mL carton packaging, and will be sold at all major supermarkets from mid-March 2020, at a retail price of 1.5 AED (USD 0.41).

Rodney Reynders, the cluster leader for sustainability (Greater Middle East and Africa) at Tetra Pak told FoodNavigator-Asia​, “Research shows that consumers are very much aware of the impact packaging has on the environment."

Beyond rice: Indian government urged to boost cereal production in security drive

Researchers are pushing for India to focus on enhancing its production of crops other than rice​, the country’s traditional staple, if it wishes to effectively address its triple threats of food security, climate change effects and malnutrition.

The study was conducted by scientists from various institutes across India and the United States, including the Indian School of Business, Columbia University, the Public Health Foundation of India and several more.

The researchers focused on four cereals commonly planted during the country’s monsoon season: rice, and the coarse cereals finger millet, pearl millet, and sorghum. Together, these four crops made up some 85% of the total monsoon cereal production between 2007 and 2011.

Related topics: Markets, All Asia-Pacific, COVID-19

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