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  • Published study: New benefits of moose and caribou

    Wednesday, January 16, 2019
    News Releases

    A study of moose and caribou meat and moose antlers has uncovered previously unknown benefits of these products.

    A study out of the Grenfell Campus Functional Foods Laboratory points to the fact that caribou meat and antlers are rich in functional lipids (fats) which are potentially useful to treat a number of conditions.

    The functional foods lab includes computerized sensory analysis systems and softwares with multiple lighting, and video recording capabilities, freezers and coolers, small food processors, specialized instrumentation for testing food properties, small equipment for food preparation (vacuum-package machine, temperature/energy controlled microwave, sous-vide machine, slow cooker); as well as a cryo-microtome for producing thinly sliced samples for spatial, qualitative and quantitative nutrient or contaminant analyses.

    The functional foods sensory research laboratory is integrated within Grenfell's Boreal Ecosystem Research Facility and has unique analytical capacity to discern the chemical determinants of consumers' sensory perception of taste, aroma, texture, colour, overall acceptance and preferences for the evaluated food. Work in this facility and the functional foods research program is also associated with assessing the bioactivities of various functional ingredients in brain health outcomes using animal and cell models.

    In this study, which was conducted by Dr. Raymond Thomas research group, with co-authors Dr. Nicole Pham, Dr. Natalia Prieto Vidal, Dr. Karen M. Doody and the students Ryley P. Pumphrey, Charles F. Manful and Tiffany A. Fillier, moose and caribou meat or moose antlers were obtained from the Newfoundland and Labrador Department of Natural Resources through Mr Wayne Barney. The functional lipids the researchers identified could go a long way towards possibly supporting the treatment of a number of health conditions.

    "Fatty acid esters of hydroxy fatty acids (FAHFA), diglycerides (DG) and monoacetyldiglycerides (MAcDG) are gaining interest as functional lipids in pharmaceuticals and functional food formulations for managing and treating metabolic or inflammatory diseases," said Dr. Thomas. "Increasing access to and knowledge of the presence of these functional lipids in foods will enhance their intake in the diet with potential implications in improving personal and population health."

    According to the study, MAcDG recently was used as the active ingredient in pharmaceuticals and functional food composition for preventing and/or treating rheumatoid arthritis, treating sepsis, inflammation, and asthma. Furthermore, the ability of DG to suppress risk factors for diabetes and cardiovascular diseases – such as obesity and an excess fats in the blood following the consumption of high fat meals– has resulted in the incorporation of DG in many food products. Furthermore emerging evidence suggest FAHFAs may have benefits at low concentrations in managing or treating diabetes and inflammatory diseases.  

    The results of the study have been published in "Molecules," a leading international peer-reviewed open access journal of chemistry, and will be the cover story for the print edition.

    What next? The functional foods research group at Grenfell Campus, memorial University, is aiming to study the bioactivity of the functional lipids discovered in moose and caribou meat or antlers in different food, cell and animal disease models.

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