Popcorn Flavoring Agent Ups Risk of Alzheimerâ€™s Progress
Popcorn lovers may now have to think twice before reaching out for a tub of their favorite snack. Popcorn now comes with a health warning, as a new study raises concern about the food flavoring ingredient used to produce the distinctive buttery flavor and aroma of microwave popcorn and other food, claiming it may be linked to Alzheimer's.
The study claims that factory workers chronically exposed to this ingredient face great health risks. This food flavoring agent used to produce a buttery flavor in popcorn, margarine, snack foods, candy, baked goods, pet foods and other products has diacetyl (DA), which intensifies the damaging effects of an abnormal brain protein linked to Alzheimer's disease.
Like Us on Facebook
The study that appears in ACS' journal Chemical Research in Toxicology focuses on DA as it is linked to respiratory and other problems in workers at microwave popcorn and food-flavoring factories.
Robert Vince and colleagues Swati More and Ashish Vartak explain that DA gives microwave popcorn its distinctive buttery taste and aroma. It forms naturally in fermented beverages such as beer and gives some chardonnay wines a buttery taste.
Vince's team realized that DA is similar to a substance that makes beta-amyloid proteins clump together in the brain. DA increases the level of beta-amyloid clumping and that leads to Alzheimer's disease. It also enhanced beta-amyloid's toxic effects on nerve cells growing in the laboratory. Lab experiments showed that DA easily penetrated the so-called "blood-brain barrier," which keeps many harmful substances from entering the brain. DA also stopped a protective protein called glyoxalase I from safeguarding nerve cells.
Researchers concluded by saying, ""In light of the chronic exposure of industry workers to DA, this study raises the troubling possibility of long-term neurological toxicity mediated by DA."