Chromatography Studies Prove that Duck Meat Isn’t So Unhealthy, After All
Mar 20 2015
Duck is often revered as being one of the more succulent and juicy meat varieties out there – as well as one of the most expensive. However, it’s generally also thought to be one of the most fattening varieties, and as such, one of the unhealthiest. On the other hand, new studies on the nutritional properties of duck meat, discovered by using various chromatography techniques, might just make you feel a little less guilty about ordering duck off the menu next time.
Antioxidants are desirable elements in the food we consume, since they are known to protect against free radicals forming inside our bodies. Free radicals are harmful molecules which are produced by oxidation reactions in our bodies and which can lead to deadly diseases such as heart disease and cancer.
Traditionally, fruit and vegetables have been thought of as the food sources with the highest level of antioxidants, making them deservedly recognised as some of the healthiest things we can consume. Increasingly, however, chromatography has been uncovering new areas and foodstuffs where antioxidants are also present.
A few years ago, a study by the Department of Microbiology at Barkatullah University in India uncovered the potential antioxidant capabilities of certain flowers and roots. These plants, when processed correctly, could possibly help to alleviate the symptoms of conditions such as diabetes, arthritis and carcinogenesis, among others. For more information on such research, see this article: Antioxidant Qualities Found in Plants.
Peptides in Meat?
More recent studies have now been pointing towards the fact that helpful antioxidants might also be found in meat products such as fish, chicken, pork, venison, and, most recently, duck. The antioxidants, most commonly found in the form of antioxidant peptides, are released when the meat is broken down by our digestive systems.
Korean scientists had discovered that these peptides could be found in duck skin, prompting a team at Nanjing Agricultural University to investigate whether or not the same was true of duck meat. The results were encouraging.
The test consisted of artificially digesting the duck meat sample in a laboratory, using an enzyme product called Protamex. The resulting sample was then tested against two different free radical samples, the 1.1-diphenyl-2-picrylhydrazyl free radical and the hydroxyl radical and was found to be able to neutralise both of them. It is thought that the sample achieved this neutralisation both by absorbing existing free radical entities and by binding metal ions to discourage the proliferation of further ones.
Identifying the Peptides
After determining that the meat did indeed contain peptides, the scientists, led by Ming Huang, attempted to separate these peptides from the remainder of the meat sample by using a series of chromatography techniques.
Firstly, they used ultrafiltration membranes to separate the compound into three distinct batches based on molecular size and discarding the two with the lowest peptide activity. Then they further separated the batches into three more factions, using size-exclusion chromatography. Concentrating on the highest-activity batch of these three, they then performed one more separation technique with the help of anion-exchange chromatography to divide the batch into six divisions.
The highest-activity batch here was then analysed with nano-liquid chromatography combined with mass spectrometry. The results revealed that 29 peptides were present in the batch, and indeed in similar quantities and sizes to other meats found to contain the peptides. As a results, scientists have concluded that duck meat can indeed prevent the proliferation of free radicals, thus preventing food turning rancid and corrupting our bodies’ immune systems.
Not so bad, after all!
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