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Quinona: Sacred “mother grain” of Ancient Inca Civilization may be the Grain of Future

Plant scientist Mark Tester of King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Saudi Arabia said the research pinpointed a gene that guides production of saponins in quinoa

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FILE - A man holds quinoa grains at a marketplace for small- and medium-sized quinoa growers in Challapata, Oruro Department, south of La Paz, Bolivia, April 19, 2014. VOA

Feb 12, 2017: Quinoa, the sacred “mother grain” of the ancient Inca civilization suppressed by Spanish conquistadors, could become an increasingly important food source in the future thanks to genetic secrets revealed in a new study.

Scientists on Wednesday said they have mapped the genome of quinoa and identified a gene that could be manipulated to get rid of the grain’s natural bitter taste and pave the way for more widespread commercial use.

Quinoa already grows well in harsh conditions such as salty and low-quality soil, high elevations and cool temperatures, meaning it can flourish in locales where common cereal crops like wheat and rice may struggle. But the presence of toxic and bitter chemicals called saponins in its seeds has been one of the impediments to extensive cultivation.

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Plant scientist Mark Tester of King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Saudi Arabia said the research pinpointed a gene that guides production of saponins in quinoa.

FILE – Aymara indigenous women grind grains of quinoa in Oruro, Bolivia, in 2013. VOA

This knowledge could enable breeding of quinoa without saponins, to make the seeds sweeter.

Currently, quinoa grain must be processed through washing and drying after harvest to remove saponins.

“Quinoa is currently greatly under-utilized,” said Tester, who led the research published in the journal Nature. “It is highly nutritious, with a high protein content that, importantly, has a very good balance of amino acids, which is unusual for our major grains. It is gluten free and high in vitamins and minerals, too.”

Increased quinoa production could improve food security on a planet with unrelenting human population growth, Tester said.

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There are potential disadvantages to reducing saponins, perhaps increasing susceptibility to fungal infections or bird predation, Tester added.

Quinoa, which boasts a nutty flavor, can be used the same ways as rice and wheat. It can be cooked and served on its own, turned into pasta, put in soups, eaten as a cereal or fermented to make beer or chicha, a beverage of the Andes.

The crop was sacred to the ancient Incas, who called it “chisoya mama,” or the “mother grain.”

During their South American conquest 500 years ago, Spaniards suppressed quinoa cultivation because of its use in indigenous religious ceremonies. They forbade quinoa cultivation for a time, with the Incas forced to grow wheat instead.

Quinoa is still a minor crop globally, grown mostly in Peru and Bolivia. It has become fashionable in the West in recent years, primarily as a health food. (VOA)

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When You Engage in ‘Hedonic Consumption’? Read Here To Find Out

"Emotional consumption is usually food because it's easily accessible and available to most people,"

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Some research suggests "hedonic consumption" doesn't help because it could lead to a vicious cycle of eating unhealthily and its associated guilt factors. Pixabay

If you start binging on fast food, savour dark chocolates or can’t resist that ice cream, this may be because of an emotional event like a recent break-up as there is science behind this behaviour, says a study.

Reacting to emotional events like break-ups, tends to involve reaching for the nearest unhealthy snack which is called “hedonic consumption”, said Nitika Garg, Associate Professor of Marketing at the University of New South Wales’ (UNSW) at Sydney Business School.

“When you engage in ‘hedonic consumption’, you always have some kind of emotion attached to it,” she added.

When you’re sad, you tend to go for overconsumption – hedonic consumption – as therapy.

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“We tend to focus on sadness and what it does to consumption but there’s also this unexpected good effect of happiness,” Garg suggested. Pixabay

“Be it ice cream or a luxury handbag, there are always emotions attached,” Garg said.

Research shows when people are made aware of emotion effects, they go away.

“One of the mechanisms to curbing hedonic consumption is making people aware of the behaviour by providing nutritional information,” Garg noted.

On the flip side, experiencing happiness actually curbs the consumption of unhealthy food products.

“Happiness is shown to increase the consumption of products people believe to be healthy,” said the professor.

In her research, the UNSW academic offered both M&M chocolates and sweet dried fruit sultanas to happy and sad people.

She found that happy people don’t eat M&Ms but they do eat sultanas a lot more.

“We tend to focus on sadness and what it does to consumption but there’s also this unexpected good effect of happiness,” Garg suggested.

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When you’re sad, you tend to go for overconsumption – hedonic consumption – as therapy. Pixabay

Some research suggests “hedonic consumption” doesn’t help because it could lead to a vicious cycle of eating unhealthily and its associated guilt factors.

Also Read: “Worn-of-Women”: US Based Firm To Manufacture Female Condoms

“Emotional consumption is usually food because it’s easily accessible and available to most people,” said Garg who received a PhD from the University of Pittsburgh and MBA from IIM-Ahmedabad.

“People go for what seems easiest to them in terms of familiarity and in terms of accessibility for ‘hedonic consumption’,” the professor added. (IANS)