A new study has looked into the link between artificial butter flavoring, specifically diacetyl
(DA), and Alzheimer’s disease. If you’re one of those “extra pump” popcorn people at the movies, you may want to reconsider.
And if not, you may want to look at what else could contain this damaging ingredient.Where to Find Butter Flavor and What’s the Harm
The little addition of DA that gives food that distinctive buttery flavor and aroma can be found in almost every aisle of every grocery store; in addition to the quintessential movie snack. Microwave popcorn, margarines
, candy, baked goods, and baking spray could all contain DA. It also forms naturally in beer, gives some chardonnay wines a buttery taste, and can even show up in pet food.
After linking DA to respiratory problems and other concerns in workers at microwave popcorn and food-flavoring factories, a spotlight has been shone on the issue.
The study, which ran in American Chemicals Society’s journal, Chemical Research in Toxicology
, wanted to look more into diacetyl and what sort of harm it could have on the brain. The authors, Robert Vince, Swati More, and Ashish Vartak explain that their team realized a similar architecture in DA to a substance that makes beta-amyloid proteins clump together in the brain – a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease
Basically, they were interested in whether this ingredient could have a realistic impact on brain function and health. And the results were conclusive.The Verdict
When the results came in, the researchers found that at real-world occupational exposure levels, DA enhanced toxic effects on nerve cells growing in the laboratory. Specifically, the ubiquitous butter-flavoring agent was found to influence several aspects of amyloid-B aggregation, which is one of the two primary pathologies associated with Alzheimer’s disease.
Other lab experiments showed that diacetyl penetrates a so-called “blood-brain barrier,” which keeps many harmful substances from entering the brain. And according to the researchers, chronic exposure to industry workers could cause debilitating long-term neurological toxicity.The Skinny on the Fake Butter
So what is the application of these findings to normal men and women who aren’t
exposed on a regular basis? That hasn’t been solved just yet. But with the dire consequences it can have in continued exposure, it doesn’t seem like something to mess around with.
If you’re using any products that give you a rich, buttery flavor without actual butter as one of the ingredients, it might be wise to do some research and find out what you’re putting in your body. If you’re a fan of microwave popcorn or use butter-flavored spray on a daily basis, you could be doing a number on your brain function.
So why not reach for a bag of almonds or dried cranberries
instead of your usual movie theater snack . . . especially one that will only pack on the pounds anyway? A beach season body might just be a temporary benefit of choosing wisely, but a sharp mind will last a lifetime.Cited Sources
Vince, Robert. "American Chemical Society - The World's Largest Scientific Society." ACS.org
. N.p., 25 June 2012. Web. 07 Aug. 2012. <http://portal.acs.org/portal/acs/corg/content?_nfpb=true>.
More, Swati S. "The Butter Flavorant, Diacetyl, Exacerbates Î²-Amyloid Cytotoxicity. ACS.org
. N.p., 25 June 2012. Web. 07 Aug. 2012. <http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/tx3001016>.