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Black rice-a little-known variety of the grain that is the staple food for one-third of the world's population-may help soothe the inflammation involved in allergies, asthma and other diseases.

Previous research revealed that there can be several potential health benefits of eating black rice bran. Bran is the outer husk of the grain, which is removed during the processing of brown rice to produce the familiar white rice.

Those previous experiments, which were performed in cell cultures, indicated that black rice bran suppressed the release of histamine, which causes inflammation. In a more recent study, the scientists tested the effects of black rice bran extract on skin inflammation in laboratory mice. When they injected the extract into the mice, it reduced skin inflammation by about 32% compared to control animals. The extract also decreased production of certain substances known to promote inflammation. Brown rice bran extract did not have these effects. When the scientists fed the mice a diet containing 10% black rice bran, it reduced swelling associated with allergic contact dermatitis, a common type of skin irritation.

The findings further demonstrate the potential value of black rice bran as an anti-inflammatory and anti-allergic food ingredient and possibly also as a therapeutic agent for the treatment and prevention of diseases associated with chronic inflammation.

Contact: Mendel Friedman, USDA-ARS Produce Safety and Microbiology Research, Western Regional Research Center, Room 3125, 800 Buchanan St., Albany, CA 94710. Phone: 510- 559-5615. Fax: 510-559-6162. Email:

Scientists have successfully lab-tested a type of paper intended for use as a new packaging material that helps preserve foods by fighting the bacteria that cause spoilage.

Scientists have been exploring the use of silver nanoparticles as germ-fighting coatings on plastics, fabrics and metals. Paper coated with silver nanoparticles could provide an alternative to common food preservation methods such as radiation, heat treatment and low-temperature storage. The scientists used an effective, long-lasting method for depositing silver nanoparticles onto the surface of paper. The technique involves ultrasound, or the use of high-frequency sound waves. The coated paper showed potent antibacterial activity against E. coli and S. aureus, two causes of food poisoning, killing all of the bacteria in just three hours. This suggests its potential application as a food packaging material for promoting longer shelf life.

Contact: Aharon Gedanken, Bar-Ilan Institute of Nanotechnology and Advanced Materials, Bar-Ilan University, Ramat Gan 52900, Israel. Phone: ?3-531-8315. Email:
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Publication:Emerging Food R&D Report
Date:Dec 1, 2011
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