AgCenter News

Linda Benedict  |  7/26/2016 9:17:11 PM

Scientist uses ‘nanosalt’ to reduce sodium in foods

Marvin Moncada, an LSU AgCenter food scientist, has found a way to use less salt in foods without sacrificing flavor.

Moncada developed nanosalt, which is a powder made of salt par­ticles about 1,000 times smaller than kosher salt. By reducing the size of the particles to make a powder instead of coarse granules, the salt can cover more surface area of foods and enhance the perception of saltiness.

Nanosalt is the first product of its kind, and Moncada is hoping to market it after completing more lab tests. It offers a natural route to re­ducing the sodium content of foods, instead of using salt substitutes like potassium chloride.

Moncada recently used the nanosalt to make cheese crackers — a popular snack food, but one laden with sodium. The nanosalt crack­ers had up to 50 percent less sodium than their commercially available counterparts.

In sensory tests, a majority of consumers said they’d be willing to purchase the nanosalt crackers if they were available, Moncada said.

Another potential use for the nanosalt is in nebulizers for asth­ma treatment, Moncada said. His nanosalt particles are slightly smaller than those currently used in most nebulizers, which would offer more salt particles in the solution, he said.

Moncada has worked on the nanosalt project with AgCenter bio­logical engineer Cristina Sabliov and dairy foods technology researcher Kayanush Aryana.

Olivia McClure

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Marvin Moncada, an LSU AgCenter food scientist, has developed nanosalt, a powder made of salt particles about 1,000 times smaller than kosher salt. He is seen in this photo working with the nanospray drier used to make the nanosalt. Photo by Olivia McClure

71 earn advanced Master Gardener status

Seventy-one Master Gardeners received certification as the first class of advanced master Gardeners during a ceremony in New Orleans on May 12.

These volunteers have received an ad­ditional two years of training, which includ­ed obtaining a private pesticide applicator li­cense and completing five core classes.

Participants also completed two inter­est-area classes and passed an exam on horti­culture concepts.

The Louisiana Master Gardener program was started in Baton Rouge in 1994 to extend the educational outreach of the AgCenter’s Louisiana Cooperative Extension Service.

To become a Master Gardener, an individ­ual must complete a 50-hour training pro­gram and in the first year volunteer 40 hours. In succeeding years they must give 20 hours of service each year and complete six con­tinuing education hours.

Johnny Morgan

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Many of the 71 new advanced Master Gardeners participated in a ceremony in New Orleans to receive their certificates. Photo by Johnny Morgan

AgCenter scientists develop cataract-reducing eye drops

LSU AgCenter scientists have formulated a nanoparti­cle matrix that could be used in eye drops to both prevent and treat cataracts, a lead­ing cause of vision loss in old­er adults.

Professor Cristina Sabliov and assistant professor Car­los Astete in the Department of Biological and Agricultur­al Engineering have found a way to use nanoparticles to efficiently deliver hydropho­bic lutein and enhance its sta­bility and antioxidant prop­erties so it can be used effec­tively in eye drops.

Lutein is a naturally occur­ring yellow pigment known as a carotenoid, and it can be found in the human eye. Studies have shown that di­etary supplements can help replenish ocular lu­tein. But treatments using lutein have been lim­ited in the past by the substance’s poor water solubility, its susceptibility to degradation and low absorption efficiency.

“The nanoparticle matrix can deliver lutein to the eye efficiently as an eye drop formula­tion,” Sabliov said. “Direct application of lutein to the eye in this formulation improves its effect against cataracts.”

The nanoparticle matrix may enhance the benefits of lutein by preventing it from disinte­grating before it collects in the eye lens, where cataracts occur, Sabliov said. Improving lutein’s stability would also help it remain in the lens, potentially preventing future damage.

“This new product would have the unique advantage of both being able to prevent cata­racts before they start or to treat cataracts after they form,” she said.

Traditional treatment involves surgical re­moval of cataracts from the eye lens. The lutein eye drops could offer an effective, non-surgical and more accessible treatment option.

The AgCenter is in the process of patenting the technology.

Olivia McClure

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Professor Cristina Sabliov, left, and assistant professor Carlos Astete, of the LSU AgCenter Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering, have formulated a nanoparticle matrix that could be used in eye drops to both prevent and treat cataracts. Photo by Olivia McClure

USDA grant to aid grass-fed beef study

LSU AgCenter researchers have received a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to study the production and marketing of grass-fed beef.

Guillermo Scaglia, who conducts beef cattle research at the AgCenter Iberia Research Sta­tion, is working with AgCenter economists to evaluate grass-fed beef breeds and ways to mar­ket and deliver the beef.

In the next three years, Scaglia will study four breeds of cattle – Angus, Brangus, Holstein and Pineywoods – fed solely on one year-round system of forages such as grasses. He will de­termine productivity, grazing behavior and meat quality by studying characteristics such as tenderness and fat content.

This is a continuation of research Scaglia has been doing on grass-fed beef. He spent sever­al years identifying forage systems and that work best in the Gulf South. Now, he is looking at breed types.

“We will look at the type of carcasses and beef these breed types can produce,” Scaglia said. Grass-fed beef yields meat that is less fatty and has a different texture than grain-fed cattle.

AgCenter economist Jeff Gillespie will delve further into what the market wants. The econ­omist will study how strategic alliances can be formed among producers, restaurants and gro­cery stores.

Part of his plan is to study farm-to-market structures that the beef industry is already using.

“We plan to study the needs of grocery store and restaurant managers and see what they prefer and what agreements they might enter into,” Gillespie said.

Tobie Blanchard

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Beef cattle in the grass-fed beef project at the Iberia Research Station in Jeanerette. Photo by Guillermo Scaglia

Potential new rice varieties on the horizon

One or two breeding lines of rice will be chosen this year for seed increases that could result in the first variety release for new rice weed control technology called Provisia.

At field days in May, LSU AgCenter rice breeder Steve Linscombe said whichever is selected will undergo a seed increase in Puerto Rico next winter for a possible re­lease in 2017. “The good news is by 2018, we should have plenty of seed available.”

Provisia will provide farmers with an al­ternative technology to fight red rice, ex­tending the viability of Clearfield rice, which is a herbicide-resistant rice that has allowed farmers to control red rice, a weed that plagues the rice industry in Louisiana.

The AgCenter released the first Clear­field variety in 2002, but outcrosses of red rice with the Clearfield trait have been causing farmers problems in recent years. Provisia is expected to control those prob­lems. The new technology discovered by BASF has been in development for the past four years.

Linscombe also said he will identify one or two lines of Clearfield Jazzman this year for seed increases in Puerto Rico this win­ter, and a new variety could be chosen next year.

Bruce Schultz

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LSU AgCenter weed scientist Eric Webster talks about the new Provisia technology at the H. Rouse Caffey Research Station Field Day on June 29, 2016. Photo by Linda Foster Benedict

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