Thursday, February 16, 2012

Coffee, Tea...


Peter Bryenton asked "I was wondering how much caffeine there is on average in an ordinary cup of instant coffee?"

Not an easy question as the consumer is in control of how strong they make the coffee and how big a cup they use.  Generally instant coffee powder is about 2-3% caffeine and instant coffee is about 330mg/L (about 75mg per cup).  But I know my first cup of coffee in the morning is considerably stronger than my last of the day.

Tea is generally only about 80% of the caffeine levels of coffee but, again, this varies with type, cup size and steeping time.  Herbal teas generally have none but be careful of flavoured green teas, they have similar levels to black tea.

Colas are about 100mg/L; a third that of tea and coffee.

The much vaunted 'Energy Drinks' are only permitted a maximum of 320 mg/L in Australia and so are on a par with tea and coffee.  Not that they would want an image of a little old lady sipping her cuppa to be equated to the macho image of the heroic energy drink urban warrior-rapper-sportsman.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Anticancer Spears


Kevin Bell asked: "Any info on the email going around that Asparagus is good for curing cancer? This also seems incredulous, the pharma industry are not stupid and would be onto it quickly enough if there was any credibility in it."

Well, yes, I think you nailed it yourself, Kevin.

If there was any truth in it, it wouldn't be being sold at $4 a bunch at Woolworths.

As I understand it, cancers are initiated when your body loses the plot with regard to cell regeneration and starts an uncontrolled multiplication. 

I can see no reason why a food, any food, would stop this.  I would be more inclined to believe that eating excessive amounts of asparagus would cause problems rather than the reverse.

Too much of anything is bad.

But moderate amounts of asparagus with a good home-made hollandaise sauce is not bad for you and, indeed, can improve your emotional well-being no end.

By the way, I haven't seen the email that you mention, but I am sure that the miracle chemical in asparagus will be Rutin.  Love the name.  It is a naturally occurring flavonoid found in a number of foods.  As well as in asparagus, it is also in buckwheat, citrus peel, mulberries and cranberries.  In canned asparagus it appears as white or grey flecks in the spears.  Something about the canning process triggers crystallisation.  Quite beautiful crystals under the microscope.

A load of old rhubarb


I made mention on my home blog that my rhubarb was green and that I was adding elderberries to it to make it look more 'normal'.  I have seen recipes that added strawberries to give colour.  A few people asked if green rhubarb was safe.

Yes, it is.

The green stemmed rhubarb is a fast growing, thick stemmed hybrid.  Quite safe.

The poisonous element in rhubarb is a chemical called Oxalic Acid and it is found at high levels (0.5%) in the leaves, regardless of the stem colour.

Oxalic Acid is also found in many other plants but not at the levels found in rhubarb leaves.  Excessive Oxalic Acid consumption results in kidney stones (Calcium Oxalate).  A lethal dose of rhubarb leaves is about 5kg.