John Neumann for redOrbit.com – Your Universe Online
Although often touted as a low-calorie snack for those looking to watch their food intake, popcorn is not exactly a health food. Now, according to researchers at the University of Minnesota, one ingredient in the puffy, steaming bag may actually be harmful to your brain.
Diacetyl, the greasy so-called “butter flavoring” may actually increase your risk of getting Alzheimer´s, writes Hanna Brooks Olsen for Blisstree.com.
A recent study, published in the journal Chemical Research in Toxicology, found that prolonged or excessive exposure to the “ubiquitous butter-flavoring agent,” used in margarine and as a flavoring for all kinds of snack foods, influences proteins in the brain. Clumping of these proteins, which diacetyl accelerates, is one of Alzheimer´s disease´s signature symptoms.
Other lab experiments showed that diacetyl easily penetrated the so-called “blood-brain barrier”, which keeps many harmful substances from entering the brain, writes ZeeNews.com. Diacetyl also stopped a protective protein called glyoxalase I from safeguarding nerve cells.
Robert Vince and colleagues Swati More and Ashish Vartak explain that diacetyl has been the focus of research recently and is linked to respiratory and other problems in workers at microwave popcorn and food-flavoring factories, UPI is reporting.
Bronchial illnesses and even death among workers in popcorn factories in 2007 prompted several inquiries into the lack of protections for the employees.
In 2010, OSHA recommended new guidelines to protect the employees, including mandatory protective equipment and better medical supervision. Some food manufacturers even stopped using the substance—though substitutes have also been found to possibly be just as harmful.
“In light of the chronic exposure of industry workers to diacetyl, this study raises the troubling possibility of long-term neurological toxicity mediated by diacetyl,” the researchers said.