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Polyphosphates: what you need to know about E452

Food additives are substances added to industrial foods to improve their organoleptic qualities. They all have a code in the form of "Exxx", which is assigned by the Codex Alimentarius Commission.

Polyphosphates belong to the phosphate family and are included in the large list of food additives. They are very present in everyday food products and more in processed products. It is found in the list of ingredients of these products under the code E452.

What are the characteristics of this additive? Are there any dangers associated with its consumption? In which products is it found? Let's detail all this in this article.

Polyphosphate: what are its characteristics?

Polyphosphates visually resemble small white and transparent crystals. They can also be found in large bags, in powder form to be used as brine by professionals for example.

Polyphosphates belong to the phosphate family, from which they are derived. Phosphates are simply the salts of phosphoric acid. In chemistry, polyphosphates are compounds that have several atoms of phosphorus and oxygen.

They are used as food additives mainly as stabilizers but also as emulsifiers, acidity regulators or as humectants.

Polyphosphate: all you need to know

  • Phosphate
  • Texturizing agent
Authorized in Organic
  • No
Special diets
  • Halal
  • Kosher
  • Gluten free
  • Vegan
  • Vegetarian
  • Vegan
  • Moderate

Polyphosphate: What are the known risks?

Is it a health hazard?

It is not a health hazard. However, it is a question of quantity and frequency. Indeed, too much consumption of products containing polyphosphates would increase the blood concentration of phosphate and this could be harmful to health. Indeed, this high concentration would be a risk factor for developing cardiovascular pathologies.

An excessive consumption is not recommended for people with renal insufficiency or a risk of osteoporosis. Children are also a public at risk and products containing phosphates are not recommended for them.

In which products is it used?

Polyphosphates are widely used in the food industry but also in cosmetics and pharmaceuticals. They are therefore found in many everyday products.

They are very present in industrial sausages. In this case, polyphosphates allow a better water retention and therefore less loss during cooking. Its use also allows to artificially inflate the weight of the products as it is the case in the white hams for example.

Main functions

The main functions of polyphosphates are to be :
  • acidity regulators: by regulating the food pH;
  • emulsifiers: to create a stable and homogeneous emulsion;
  • humectants: to keep food moist;
  • leavening agents: to raise and increase the volume;
  • sequestering agents: to improve the quality and stability of the product in question;
  • stabilizers: to maintain the texture or consistency of the food;
  • thickeners: to reduce the liquid character of the product.

Where is it found?

Polyphosphates are very present in industrial food. They are often found in :
  • bakery products (bread, sandwich bread, etc.) and processed pastries ;
  • industrial cheeses and some dairy products;
  • meat products, mainly cold cuts
  • ice cream;
  • breakfast cereals;
  • soups, broths and sauces;
  • certain beverages.

Learn more about polyphosphates

There are different polyphosphates that have specific uses. In fact, polyphosphates are obtained mainly by heat treatment of orthophosphates (the simplest form of phosphates). Each salt obtained has its own physico-chemical properties. There are, among others, sodium, potassium and calcium polyphosphates.

Aspartic acid: the amino acid that makes up aspartame

Description of aspartic acid

Aspartic acid is a non-essential amino acid that can be synthesized by the body.

Roles of aspartic acid in the body

Stimulates sex hormones

Aspartic acid promotes the production of testosterone and progesterone.

Neurotransmitter role

Aspartic acid also acts as a neurotransmitter in the brain by activating glutamate receptors.

Aspartic acid and aspartame

Aspartame is composed in part of aspartic acid which is then associated with phenylalanine.

Food sources of aspartic acid

What are the main sources of aspartic acid?

Aspartic acid is mainly found in foods of animal origin such as meat, fish and shellfish, but also in legumes.

20 foods that contain the most aspartic acid

  • Spirulina
  • Turkey
  • Beef
  • Bacon
  • Cuttlefish
  • Lentils
  • Veal
  • Tuna
  • Chicken
  • Lamb
  • Kidney beans
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Split peas
  • Octopus
  • Almonds
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Whole milk powder
  • Mozzarella cheese
  • Cheddar cheese
  • Egg

Daily needs in aspartic acid

The body is capable of manufacturing aspartic acid, however, a healthy adult would need 500 to 2000 mg of aspartic acid per day.

Consequences of an aspartic acid deficiency

In rare cases of deficiency, chronic fatigue and even depression can occur.

Consequences of an excess of aspartic acid

To date, there are no scientific studies that have demonstrated a risk linked to the excessive consumption of aspartic acid.

Phytic acid: what benefits and dangers on food?

Phytic acid is a natural substance found in certain foods such as seeds, pulses and oleaginous fruits. It is also known as phytate when it is bound to a mineral. Phytic acid is the energy stored, in the form of phosphorus, in the seed (or other) that needs to germinate.

It is sometimes called "anti-nutrient" and is accused of preventing the absorption of micronutrients contained in the food we eat by binding to certain minerals. But it also has some virtues. So what are the benefits and dangers on our daily food?

Phytic acid: benefits and dangers on food

The danger: decrease of the absorption of minerals

Phytic acid slows down the absorption of iron, mainly non-heme iron (from plant origin) and it also alters the absorption of calcium, zinc and magnesium. Phytic acid also reduces the digestibility of proteins and lipids.

Plants store phosphorus in phytic acid. Phytic acid binds to minerals and creates phytates. Our body does not have the enzymes to break down phytates. It is then unable to absorb the nutrients from the food in question. Poor absorption can lead to deficiencies.

Phytic acid is not only a danger to food and our bodies. It also has strong health benefits.

The benefits of phytic acid

It is an antioxidant

By binding to minerals in the intestines, phytic acid prevents the formation of free radicals and becomes an antioxidant. It is therefore a protector against the development of certain pathologies and the premature aging of cells. As an antioxidant, it is an anti-inflammatory and a detoxifier for the body.

It helps to fight against osteoporosis

Some studies compare people on a high phytic acid diet with people on a low phytic acid diet. It turns out that the low phytic acid diet shows less bone density. This is simply because phytate-rich foods are also full of many minerals. The loss of assimilation can thus be compensated by the important presence of minerals.

Guide for use

Where is it found?

It is generally found in cereal products, legumes (chickpeas, lentils, kidney beans, split peas, etc.), oilseeds (walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds, etc.) and seeds. It is also present in soybeans and some tubers. It is not very present in animal products.

How to limit its effect on the absorption of nutrients?

When foods rich in phytic acid arrive on our plate, there has often been a transformation. Cereals and legumes are not eaten raw and are not processed at all. These transformations help to destroy the phytates. When we eat these foods, the quantity of phytates that remain is much lower and has less of an effect on the absorption of nutrients.

In general, a complete and balanced diet provides enough minerals so that the effect of phytic acid is not significant and does not cause deficiency. However, it is necessary to limit these foods in the case of a particular pathology or specific period of life (pregnant women, nursing mothers, growth, etc.). It is worthwhile to seek professional advice in this case.


Several parameters can reduce the effect of phytic acid on the absorption of minerals:
  • soaking in water: it reduces the phytate content by half thanks to the activation of naturally present digestive enzymes;
  • cooking: it eliminates on average 50% of the phytates in cereals;
  • fermentation: the slow fermentation of flours, used for example in the making of sourdough bread, favors the degradation of phytates.
The addition of other nutrients to the meal also plays a role:
  • vitamin C would reduce the amount of phytic acid present in the intestines. So remember to eat vegetables and especially fruit regularly;
  • proteins of animal origin increase the absorption of minerals.

Chemical property

Phytic acid is a molecule of plant origin with the raw formula C6 H18 O24 P6. It is formed during the maturation of plant seeds and in dormant seeds.


Phytic acid was discovered around the 1850s when it was isolated from small particles in various plant seeds. Since then, it has been the subject of various studies due to its importance in the absorption of minerals.


Although phytic acid prevents the absorption of certain nutrients, it is also a super antioxidant and therefore a great ally in the fight against free radicals. With a few precautions, preparation and within a good balanced diet, it is possible to reduce its anti absorption effect and therefore enjoy all its benefits.

Alkaloids: what are these stimulating and toxic substances?

Alkaloids are compounds that are extracted from plants and are used in many cases and for various reasons: analgesics, anti-malarial, paralyzing substances, poisons or even as narcotics. We find them, without knowing it, in our daily life in many cases. They have an important stimulating effect but they are also toxic substances with harmful effects for the body. What are they and where are they found? Focus on alkaloids.

What are they?

Alkaloids are organic substances that are mainly of plant origin. They are found in plants. Their particularity is that they all contain at least one nitrogen atom in the molecule. These substances can have a powerful toxic and harmful action for the body and/or stimulating or even therapeutic. There are thousands of them.

They are present in our daily lives because they are found in medicines, stimulants, drugs or even in certain foods.

Where are they found?

Alkaloids can be found in certain medications


Morphine is a drug that belongs to the class of painkillers. It relieves pain when analgesics are not effective. It reduces pain by acting on the brain to increase pain tolerance. Morphine, which has an immediate release, acts quickly and relieves pain in a very short time (30 minutes on average). However, there are significant side effects from taking this medication such as:
  • drowsiness ;
  • Nausea;
  • vomiting;
  • or constipation.
More rarely, other complications may occur:
  • mental or sleep disorders;
  • a slowing down of the breathing ;
  • etc.
Morphine can also lead to dependence.


This is a derivative of morphine. It is used for its analgesic properties (against pain), antitussive (i.e. against cough) and as a sleeping pill. It also has therapeutic virtues but also harmful effects for the body which are similar to those of morphine.


It is a substance found in certain medicines. It is an analgesic traditionally used to treat cramps. It is also an antimalarial drug. Quinine has many virtues. However, it can also be toxic to the body and cause side effects such as:
  • tinnitus ;
  • dizziness ;
  • or convulsions.
Like many drugs, those belonging to the alkaloids have benefits and dangers. It is therefore important to be vigilant and to follow a doctor's recommendations.

Alkaloids are also present in certain stimulants


Caffeine is a very popular alkaloid that has been used for years by many people. This substance is found in coffee, of course, but also in tea, certain soft drinks and in smaller quantities in cocoa and chocolate. It is an excitant that accelerates the functioning of the nervous system. It increases attention and especially fights against sleepiness and fatigue. Caffeine is therefore a stimulant. Taken regularly and in large quantities, its toxic effect appears and it can cause :
  • headaches ;
  • high blood pressure;
  • heart palpitations or even arrhythmia.


It has a stimulating effect by promoting the release of dopamine in the brain. In excess, this neurotransmitter accelerates the heart rate and increases blood pressure. With the dependence it causes, its sudden stop can also lead to complications such as irritability, withdrawal or anxiety for example.

Again, these stimulants are both stimulating and toxic substances.

They are also found in certain drugs


It is extracted from the coca leaf. It is a powerful stimulant of the central nervous system. It blocks the storage of dopamine and the transport of serotonin. It is an addictive substance, toxic with important long term effects:
  • cardiovascular disorders ;
  • hypertension ;
  • epileptic disorders ;
  • dependence ;
  • anxiety ;
  • etc.
There are of course other less known alkaloids. In summary, their physiological impacts on the body are :
  • impacts on the nervous system: stimulant, exciting, hallucinogenic, analgesic, paralyzing, etc.
  • effects on the cardiovascular system: blood pressure regulator, anti-arrhythmic, etc.
  • therapeutic virtues: fight against malaria, pain, etc.

Alkaloids can also be present in certain foods

This is the case of potatoes when they are still a little green, potato sprouts, raw eggplant or tomatoes that are not very ripe which contain solanine. It is also found in certain cereals such as buckwheat, millet, germinated seeds, dried herbs etc. Their stimulating and/or toxic activity is however very weak.

Chemical properties

Most of the time, an alkaloid consists of :

  • an amine group ;
  • one or more carbon atoms ;
  • and several hydrogen atoms (H).


The discovery of alkaloids began in the 1800s with the isolation of morphine from opium. From then on, alkaloids will develop and multiply with the appearance of different analytical techniques.

What is glutamate or glutamic acid?

Glutamic acid is a non-essential amino acid, so it can be produced by the body but is often secreted in insufficient quantities, so it is important to provide it through the diet. Glutamate is also one of the most active neurotransmitters in the brain. It is also used as a food additive (E621) in the form of monosodium glutamate.

Characteristics of glutamate or glutamic acid :
  • Non-essential amino acid present in many foods
  • Plays the role of neurotransmitter in the brain
  • Monosodium glutamate can cause allergic reactions when consumed in excess
  • The additive E621 derived from glutamic acid is sometimes accused of causing addiction to industrial foods

Why consume foods rich in glutamic acid?

Glutamic acid role and definition

Glutamate, a neurotransmitter above all

Glutamate, which is an ionized form of glutamic acid, is one of the most important neurotransmitters of the central nervous system.

15 foods rich in glutamate

It is the most common amino acid in the common diet, its particular flavor has been studied and defined as the "umami" flavor, different from the sweet, salty, bitter and acidic flavors already known.

  • Almond
  • Pumpkin seed
  • Split peas
  • Coral lentils
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Kelp (seaweed)
  • Soy sauce
  • Emmental cheese
  • Tomato
  • Scallop
  • Peas
  • Crab
  • Cabbage
  • Chicken
  • Beef

How to use glutamate in cooking?

Use of glutamic acid

The body is able to produce glutamic acid, but it is advisable to provide 500 to 2000mg of glutamic acid every day through the diet.

Use in bodybuilding

Glutamine, which is derived from glutamic acid, is very often used by high level athletes. Indeed, L-glutamine allows to quickly and efficiently reconstitute glycogen stocks. Glutamine supplementation therefore helps to maintain a good energy level, improve performance and optimize post-exercise recovery.

Undesirable effects of glutamate

Consequences of glutamic acid deficiency

The effects of glutamic acid deficiency are felt mainly in the mood, with irritability, mood swings and significant fatigue.

Is glutamic acid a health hazard?

Monosodium glutamate (additive E621) is widely used by the food industry. This additive is a flavor enhancer that greatly strengthens the taste of food and makes them very attractive to the taste buds. Monosodium glutamate is accused of deceiving the brain and creating an addiction to industrial food. Many studies are still underway on this subject, so caution is the best attitude to adopt towards this chemically modified substance.

In excess, glutamic acid can also have a neurotoxic effect and cause kidney damage.

Allergy to glutamate

Glutamic acid in the form of monosodium glutamate (a food additive) can sometimes be poorly tolerated, mainly due to allergic reactions following a large consumption of foods rich in monosodium glutamate. The pseudo allergy to glutamate is also called "Chinese restaurant syndrome", simply because Chinese food contains a lot of it. This syndrome results in red patches on the face and chest with a feeling of tightness in the chest, headache, nausea, malaise, etc.

Interactions (with other nutrients)

The action of glutamate is counterbalanced by that of GABA, the synthesis of which it allows.

Chemical properties

The semi developed formula of glutamic acid is C5H9NO4. Glutamate is the anionic form of glutamic acid, it is one of the 22 amino acids present on messenger RNA. It is encoded on the RNA by the two codons GAA and GAG.

Its molar mass is 147.1293 g/mol and its density is 1.538.

Glutamate is one of the most important neurotransmitters in the brain. Its excitatory action is counterbalanced by that of GABA of which it is one of the precursors.


History of the nutrient

Originally, glutamic acid is an amino acid that is ubiquitous in foods of animal and plant origin. It was in 1908 that it was identified within foods as giving a flavour in its own right called umami. It was then discovered that this amino acid, which is a priori tasteless, releases a unique taste under the effect of certain phenomena: cooking, fermentation, ripening, etc.

Since then, monosodium glutamate or sodium salt of glutamic acid is widely used by manufacturers to add flavor to foods. It is the additive E621.

DHA: all about this Omega-3 fatty acid

DHA or docosahexaenoic acid belongs to the Omega-3 family. Particularly recognized for its beneficial effects on the brain, it also helps preserve vision and the heart. Even if we can synthesize it from another Omega-3 (ALA), it is essential to bring enough of it via the food.

Characteristic of DHA (Omega-3):
  • Polyunsaturated fatty acid of the Omega-3 family
  • Found in sea products
  • DHA is essential for the brain and cognitive functions
  • A deficiency in DHA favors depression and neurodegenerative diseases (Alzheimer)
  • Protective effect on the heart and eyes

Why consume foods rich in Omega-3 DHA?

Omega-3 DHA fatty acid: definition and benefits

Omega-3 DHA and brain

The DHA, called cervonic acid, is fundamental for the functioning of the nervous system. It facilitates neuronal connections and exchanges between the brain and the rest of the body. Thus, it preserves cognitive functions (memory, concentration, alertness) and limits the risks of neurodegenerative diseases (Alzheimer's for example).

Quality of the sight

The Omega-3 fatty acid DHA is an essential component of the eye and plays an essential role in the quality of vision. A good intake of DHA allows the renewal of the retinal photoreceptors and limits the risks of ocular pathologies (AMD, cataracts, etc.).

Cardiovascular protection

Omega-3 in general, and DHA in particular, have a protective role on the cardiovascular system. DHA thins the blood and has an anti-inflammatory effect that reduces the formation of atherosclerosis plaques and clots in the vessels. A correct dietary intake of DHA can therefore reduce the risk of mortality from cardiovascular events.

20 foods rich in DHA  

  • Salmon, fresh or canned
  • Whitefish or mackerel, baked
  • Bluefin tuna, baked
  • Black or red caviar
  • Atlantic or Pacific herring, baked
  • Spotted king mackerel, baked
  • Cod, smoked or baked
  • Baked farmed rainbow trout
  • Canned horse mackerel
  • Sea bass, tilefish, blue mackerel, swordfish, trout or tassergal, baked
  • Tuna, white meat, canned
  • Cisco (lake herring), smoked
  • Sea bass or smelt, baked
  • Sardines, canned, in oil
  • Oysters, steamed or boiled
  • Atlantic pollock, grilled
  • Halibut, baked or broiled
  • Wolffish, grilled
  • Fish eggs
  • Atlantic or Pacific halibut, grilled

How to use DHA properly?

Use of DHA

Daily DHA requirements

Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA)
  • 0 to 6 months 0.32% of total fatty acids
  • 6 months to 1 year 70 mg
  • 1 to 3 years 70 mg
  • 3 to 9 years 125 mg
  • Adolescents and adults 250 mg

DHA in food supplements

Food supplements containing DHA are generally indicated to preserve and stimulate cognitive functions. Supplementation can be considered to reduce stress, increase concentration, stimulate memory, preserve visual acuity or protect the cardiovascular system. The dosage varies and is generally between 500 and 1000 mg per day. Ask a doctor's advice before taking DHA-based supplements.

Adverse effects of Omega-3 DHA

DHA deficiency

Insufficient DHA intake increases vulnerability to mood disorders and depression. In the long term, DHA deficiency could also promote the onset of early neurodegenerative diseases, cardiovascular diseases and eye pathologies.

Consequences of an excess of DHA

There are no studies on excess DHA. However, it is known that Omega-3s have the effect of thinning the blood. Consumed in too large quantities, they increase the risk of bleeding.

Interactions with other nutrients

A good intake of vitamin E prevents the oxidation of Omega-3 (DHA) in the body.

DHA supplementation can interfere with anticoagulant and anti-platelet treatments, it is necessary to ask a doctor's advice.

Finally, a too high consumption of Omega-6 can counterbalance the positive action of Omega-3 DHA and reduce their beneficial effects on the body.

Chemical properties

Docosahexaenoic acid or DHA is a polyunsaturated fatty acid belonging to the Omega-3 family. Its gross formula is C22H32O2 and its molar mass is 328.4883 g/mol.

This fatty acid is synthesized by bacteria and marine algae, which is why it is only found in seafood. Man is able to synthesize DHA from ALA (alpha linolenic acid) which is, therefore, essential to the functioning of the body.


History of the nutrient

DHA was first discovered in the brain, which is why it was first named cervonic acid. While the role of Omega-3 is becoming better known, the role of DHA (and EPA) is still the subject of thousands of scientific studies. DHA could be very promising in the preventive and curative treatment of cardiovascular, ocular and neurodegenerative diseases. The competent authorities now authorize certain nutritional claims relating to the presence of DHA and EPA in food products.

Monounsaturated fatty acids or Omega-9

Monounsaturated fatty acids, known as Omega-9, are very important lipids for the body. Even if they are not essential since the body knows how to synthesize them, a sufficient dietary intake would have many benefits. In fact, Omega-9s promote cardiovascular health and prevent certain metabolic diseases.

Characteristics of monounsaturated fats:
  • Non-essential fatty acids that have a double bond
  • Oleic acid is the main source of dietary Omega-9
  • Found mostly in vegetable fats and oilseeds
  • Protective role on the cardiovascular system
  • Very present in the Mediterranean diet

Why adopt a diet rich in monounsaturated fatty acids?

Monounsaturated fatty acids: definition and benefits

Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids: what is the difference?

Monounsaturated fatty acids are mainly represented by oleic acid. They are called Omega-9. Polyunsaturated fatty acids are Omega-3 and Omega-6. Omega-9s have only one double bond or unsaturation, while Omega-3s and Omega-6s have several, which makes them more sensitive to oxidation. In general, these three families of fats are beneficial to cardiovascular health. However, it is recommended to favor the Omega 3 and 9 and to decrease the consumption of Omega 6.

Prevention of cardiovascular diseases

A sufficient consumption of monounsaturated fatty acids regulates the cholesterol level in the blood, decreasing the LDL-cholesterol and increasing the HDL-cholesterol level (good cholesterol). As a result, the process of atherosclerosis and clogging of the arteries is minimized and the risk of cardiovascular accidents is reduced. Moreover, Omega-9 would have a positive effect on the blood pressure, they would thus contribute doubly to prevent cardiovascular diseases. In any case, this is the principle on which the Mediterranean diet is based.

Reduction of obesity and type 2 diabetes

Monounsaturated fatty acids have a positive effect on insulin sensitivity, reducing the long-term risk of type 2 diabetes. The action of monounsaturated fats combining lower cholesterol levels, better insulin sensitivity and lower blood triglycerides makes them particularly effective in preventing obesity, metabolic diseases and type 2 diabetes. A balanced diet rich in Omega-3 and 9 could be more relevant than a diet low in carbohydrates and lipids.

20 foods rich in monounsaturated fatty acids

  • Macadamia nuts
  • Hazelnuts
  • Almonds
  • Pecans
  • Marinated herring fillet
  • High oleic sunflower oil
  • Mixed nuts, including peanuts, roasted
  • Pork shoulder, braised or roasted
  • Pork chops, braised or roasted
  • Safflower oil, high in oleic acid
  • Olive oil
  • Avocado
  • Lamb loin or shoulder, braised or grilled
  • Brazil nuts, dehydrated
  • Rapeseed oil
  • Cashews, roasted in oil or dry
  • Peanuts, roasted in oil or dry
  • Dry-roasted pistachios
  • Lean ground beef, 17% MF, grilled
  • Peanut oil

How to use monounsaturated fatty acids ?

Use of monounsaturated fatty acids

Daily needs

In a healthy adult, oleic acid (the most important monounsaturated fatty acid in the diet) should represent 15 to 20% of the total lipid intake.

Omega-9 based food supplements

There are many food supplements based on poly and monounsaturated fats. These supplements are particularly indicated to protect the cardiovascular system and the brain. Increasingly, their use is being recommended for metabolic diseases or type 2 diabetes. Before considering fatty acid supplementation, please seek the advice of your physician.

Adverse effects of monounsaturated fats

Monounsaturated fat deficiency

A deficiency in omega-9 monounsaturated fatty acids may result in an increased cardiovascular risk. In addition, in populations with a low intake of oleic acid, the prevalence of overweight and metabolic diseases is higher.

Excess of monounsaturated fatty acids

Overconsumption of monounsaturated fats is counterproductive and leads to weight gain. Daily fat intake should not exceed 35 to 40% of total energy intake, including 15 to 20% of Omega-9.

Interactions with other nutrients

The beneficial effect of Omega-9 on the organism can be diminished and counterbalanced by an excessive consumption of Omega-6 or trans fatty acids. On the contrary, a good intake of Omega-3 reinforces the benefits of Omega-9 on the cardiovascular system.

Chemical properties

Monounsaturated fatty acids, or Omega 9, have a double bond on the ninth carbon. The main representative of Omega-9 is oleic acid. Its gross formula is C18H34O2 and its molar mass is 282.4614 g/mol. It is symbolized by the numbers (18:1) because it consists of 18 carbon atoms and only one unsaturation. In its natural state it is a yellow liquid insoluble in water. Olive oil is made up of 55 to 80% oleic acid, which is why this monounsaturated fatty acid was given its name. In the family of the Omega-9 one finds also the erucic acid or the nervonic acid.


History of the nutrient

For a long time demonized in the diet, Omega-9 and particularly oleic acid came back to the forefront thanks to the discovery of the Mediterranean diet and its benefits. In the 1950s, it was A. Keynes who discovered the essential role of diet in the prevention of cardiovascular disorders. He then realized that the populations living around the Mediterranean basin suffer much less from cardiovascular disease than others. By studying their lifestyle and diet, he realized that their diet, rich in olive oil and vegetarian, was responsible for this protective effect. From that moment on, science has not ceased to be interested in the role of Omega-9 in the prevention and treatment of heart disease, obesity and metabolic pathologies.

Alcohol, a caloric and toxic substance

Description of alcohol

Alcohol - most commonly found in the form of ethanol - is produced by the fermentation, maceration or distillation of fruits or seeds. It is a caloric substance and toxic for the body if consumed in large quantities.

Dangers of alcohol and actions on the body

Depressant of the nervous system

Alcohol acts on inhibitions, it also affects motor functions and lengthens reaction time.


Considered as a drug, alcohol can lead to important and dangerous situations of addiction for the health.


Regular alcohol consumption has been shown to increase the prevalence of certain cancers, even in small doses.

Weight gain

With a caloric intake of 7kcal for 1g of alcohol, it is a substance that can contribute to weight gain. However, in cases of heavy dependence, a significant weight loss can be observed as food intake is reduced.

Sources of alcohol

What are the main sources of alcohol?

Alcohol levels vary from one drink to another, but it is important to keep an eye on the quantities consumed to have a reliable indication of the amount of alcohol ingested. With the contents presented below, we can see that a 25cl glass of beer at 7% vol. contains the same quantity of alcohol as a 4cl glass of whisky at 44% vol.

Some alcoholic drinks

  • Beer at 7% vol.
  • Wine at 12% vol.
  • Port at 20% vol.
  • Brandy at 45% vol.
  • Whisky at 44% vol.
  • Champagne at 10% vol.

Daily alcohol requirements

Alcohol being a toxic substance, there is no recommendation concerning a minimum consumption. It should be totally forbidden for children and pregnant women.

Consequences of excessive alcohol consumption

Excessive alcohol consumption leads first of all to a state of drunkenness (speech disorders, dizziness, narrowing of the field of vision and lengthening of reaction time). In cases of prolonged exposure to alcohol in large quantities, specific pathologies can develop such as liver cirrhosis, pancreatitis, delirium tremens or Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome.

The supposed benefits of alcohol

It is not uncommon to read that moderate alcohol consumption could be beneficial to health, especially concerning red wine. This is a preconceived notion linked to the presence of tannins in red wine, which is an anti-oxidant. Tannins are found in many other sources (spinach, blackcurrant, tea...) which do not contain alcohol and are therefore safe for your health.

Alpha-linolenic acid : all about ALA

ALA, or alpha-linolenic acid, is an essential fatty acid of the Omega-3 family. The benefits of Omega-3 on cardiovascular health and the nervous system are well known. ALA is also a precursor of the two other Omega-3s, EPA and DHA. It is therefore essential to provide enough of it through the diet.

Characteristics of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA):

  • Essential fatty acid of the family of Omega 3 not synthesizable by the organization
  • Precursor of EPA and DHA
  • Found in flaxseed oil, rapeseed oil and walnuts
  • Our intake of Omega-3 is, to date, insufficient
  • ALA, EPA and DHA participate in the prevention of cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases

Why consume food sources of ALA?

Benefits of a diet rich in alpha linolenic acid

Synthesis of EPA and DHA

The body is capable of synthesizing DHA and EPA from alpha linolenic acid (ALA). However, ALA cannot be synthesized by the body. It is therefore essential to provide it through the diet, it is an essential Omega-3. Especially since EPA and DHA have many benefits on the nervous and cardiovascular systems. In this sense, a sufficient consumption of alpha linolenic acid represents a considerable asset for health.

Health of the cardiovascular system

In the 1950s and during research on the Mediterranean diet, scientists discovered the role of Omega-3 in the prevention of cardiovascular diseases. In fact, they make the blood more fluid and limit the process of atherosclerosis, one of the main causes of cardiovascular accidents. However, it is not yet known precisely what role each of the 3 Omega-3s (EPA, DHA and ALA) plays in this process.

20 foods rich in alpha linolenic acid (ALA)

  • Flaxseed oil
  • Nuts
  • Flaxseed
  • Walnut oil
  • Lamb
  • Rapeseed oil
  • Cooked soybeans
  • Beef, various cuts, cooked
  • Wheat germ oil
  • Soybean oil
  • Dehydrated walnuts
  • Tofu, plain, firm (prepared with calcium sulphate)
  • Soybeans, roasted
  • Roquefort cheese (blue)
  • Dry-roasted soybeans
  • Pecan nuts
  • Sprouted radish seeds
  • Pine nuts (pine nuts), dehydrated
  • Unsalted butter

How to use Omega-3 ALA?

Use of ALA

Alpha linolenic acid requirements

The current Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) is 1% for ALA. This means that 1% of the total daily energy intake should be represented by alpha-linolenic acid. Remember that lipids should represent 35 to 40% of total energy intake.

As a guide, here is a table of adequate intakes of alpha-linolenic acid by population groups:
Adequate Intake (AI)
  • Infants 0-6 months 0,5 g
  • Infants 7-12 months 0,5 g
  • Babies 1-3 years 0,7 g
  • Children 4-8 years 0,9 g
  • Boys 9-13 years 1,2 g
  • Girls 9-13 years 1,0 g
  • Boys 14-18 years 1,6 g
  • Girls 14-18 years 1,1 g
  • Men 19-50 years 1,6 g
  • Women 19-50 years 1,1 g
  • Men 50 years old and more 1,6 g
  • Women 50+ years 1,1 g
  • Pregnant women 1,4 g
  • Women who are breastfeeding 1,3 g

Omega-3 ALA food supplements

Many Omega-3 food supplements contain alpha linolenic acid. They are, in general, indicated to prevent or treat affections of the nervous and cardiovascular systems. However, it is important to keep in mind that dietary supplements should not replace a varied and balanced diet.

Adverse effects of alpha linolenic acid

ALA deficiency

A lack of alpha linolenic acid intake can lead to a deficiency in EPA and DHA. These Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for cardiovascular and nervous system health. An insufficient intake can therefore promote the occurrence of cardiac and neurodegenerative pathologies.

Excess of Omega-3 ALA

due to their blood-thinning effect, the main risk of an excessive intake of Omega-3 is hemorrhagic.

Interactions with other nutrients

A sufficient intake of alpha linolenic acid promotes the synthesis of EPA and DHA. On the other hand, an excessive intake of Omega-6 reduces the health benefits of alpha-linolenic acid. The diet should therefore, ideally, maintain a balance between Omega 3 and Omega 6.

Chemical properties

The gross formula of alpha-linolenic acid is C18H30O2, its molar mass is 278.4296 g/mol. Like all fatty acids of the Omega-3 family, ALA has three double bonds, or unsaturations. The body is able to convert ALA into EPA and DHA, so it is an essential precursor for health. On the other hand, it is impossible for the body to manufacture alpha-linolenic acid, which must therefore be provided in sufficient quantities via the diet.


History of the nutrient

Alpha linolenic acid is currently the subject of various scientific studies. There could be existing links between prostate cancer and ALA consumption. This highly controversial link remains to be clarified. At the same time, studies tend to prove the positive effect of alpha-linolenic acid on the prevention of breast cancer. Similarly, its role in the prevention of cardiovascular disease has yet to be precisely defined.

EPA: all about this Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid

EPA or eicosapentaenoic acid is a fatty acid belonging to the Omega-3 family. Of marine origin, this Omega-3 has been the focus of attention for several years because of its many health benefits. Numerous studies link the Western diet poor in Omega-3 (EPA) and the prevalence of certain civilization diseases (cardiovascular diseases, obesity, hypertriglyceridemia, etc.).

Characteristic of the Omega-3 EPA :
  • Polyunsaturated fatty acid of marine origin
  • Positive action on depression and mood disorders
  • A good intake protects the heart and the body from inflammation
  • Found in fatty fish
  • Fish oil-based dietary supplements are rich in EPA

Why eat foods rich in EPA?

Omega-3 EPA and DHA: definition

EPA and DHA are fatty acids of the Omega-3 family. Both are of marine origin and have their own characteristic virtues.

For more information on the nutritional recommendations for EPA omega-3 fatty acids (in particular those of the WHO), see the Essential fatty acids (omega-3 and omega-6) sheet.

Benefits of EPA and its role in the body

Role of essential fatty acids on the brain

Omega-3s have a particularly important role in the brain and nervous system. Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) would have beneficial effects on depressive and mood disorders. Indeed, its transformation into prostaglandins in the body would promote the transmission of nerve impulses and would reduce the risks of depression.


While Omega-6 in excess has a pro-inflammatory action, Omega-3 (and EPA in particular) are powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-allergic. It is known that the prostaglandins which they allow the synthesis of, have the effect of decreasing the inflammatory and allergic reactions of the body. EPA would also have a positive effect on chronic inflammatory diseases since it would relieve certain symptoms, in case of rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn's disease in particular.

Protection of the cardiovascular system

A good intake of Omega-3 (including DHA) significantly reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease and mortality from cardiac accidents in people who have already suffered a heart attack. By fluidifying the blood, Omega-3 prevents the formation of clots, the obstruction of the arteries and the cardiac rhythm disorders.

Bone health

Omega-3 EPA preserves the integrity of bone tissue by inhibiting the action of arachidonic acid. Arachidonic acid promotes the degradation of bone tissue and inflammation, it belongs to the Omega-6 family.

Foods rich in Omega-3 EPA

  • Pacific or Atlantic herring, baked                           
  • Salmon, fresh or canned
  • Oven-roasted Atlantic herring
  • Smoked or baked cod
  • Pacific oysters, raw, steamed or boiled
  • Black and red caviar, granular
  • Greenland halibut (Greenland halibut), grilled
  • Mackerel, grilled
  • Cisco (lake herring), smoked
  • Canned sardines with bones
  • Rainbow trout or lake whitefish, grilled
  • Sea bass (Atlantic), baked
  • Bluefin tuna or smelt, baked
  • Lobsters, steamed or boiled
  • Crab, steamed or boiled
  • Hake, baked
  • Grilled freshwater bass
  • Canned shrimp
  • Grilled sturgeon
  • Flatfish (plaice, sole, etc.)

How to use EPA (Omega-3) ?

Use of EPA

The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for EPA is 250 mg per day for a healthy adult.

EPA food supplements

In pharmacies or specialized stores, it is possible to find fish oil-based food supplements that are very rich in EPA and DHA Omega-3. These supplements are particularly indicated in case of psychological fatigue, to prevent cardiovascular diseases or to relieve the symptoms of a chronic disease (rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn's disease, etc.). The dosage varies according to the context and the problem, ask your doctor for advice.

Adverse effects of Omega-3

Omega-3 EPA deficiency

In the West, we consume relatively little Omega-3 and too much Omega-6. This imbalance often leads to a deficiency in Omega-3 (and EPA) responsible for many words. A too low intake of EPA favors mood disorders, depression and psychological fatigue. Moreover, this imbalance between dietary fatty acids increases the risk of cardiovascular disorders and creates a pro-inflammatory terrain conducive to disease.

Excess of EPA

There are few studies on the potential toxicity of Omega-3 in very high doses. It is known, however, that they have the effect of liquefying the blood. If a normal intake allows to fight against the formation of clots in the arteries, an excess could increase the hemorrhagic risk in the long term.

Interaction with aspirin

Aspirin, like Omega-3, thins the blood. It is therefore recommended to ask for medical advice before taking Omega-3 supplements in case of aspirin-based medical treatment.

Chemical properties

The raw formula of EPA is C20H30O2, its molar mass is 302.451 g/mol. EPA is a member of the Omega-3 family, like DHA or ALA. Omega-3s are polyunsaturated fatty acids that are essential for the body. Indeed, we are not able to synthesize them, so we must provide enough of them through the diet.

Polyunsaturated fatty acids have a carbon chain that contains several double bonds. EPA (20:5) has 5 double bonds and a chain composed of 20 carbon atoms. Because of their chemical structure, Omega-3 (EPA) are liquid at room temperature and particularly sensitive to oxidation and rancidity.


History of the nutrient

In Greek, the term Omega has a particular meaning. It is the last letter of the alphabet, often used by scientists as a unit of measurement.

Omega-3 began to arouse the curiosity of scientists in the mid 1900s. Indeed, two Danish researchers began to take an interest in the health of the inhabitants of Greenland and their diet. They realized that their mortality rate by cardiovascular accident was less than 3%, against nearly 50% in Western countries. At the same time, other scientists were interested in a small island off the coast of Japan, known for its healthy, century-old population: Okinawa. Later, it was discovered that the common point between these two populations was their consumption of oily fish, which seemed to protect them from civilization diseases, obesity and cardiovascular accidents. This is how the role of Omega-3 EPA and DHA came to light more than 100 years ago.

Alanine, a non-essential amino acid

Description of alanine

Alanine is a non-essential amino acid that can be synthesized by the body. Alanine is one of the most common amino acids in the body.

Roles of alanine in the body


Alanine is transformed by the liver into a source of energy, increasing the sugar level in the blood.

White blood cell formation

Alanine contributes to the formation of white blood cells and is therefore essential for maintaining good health.

Food sources of alanine

What are the main sources of alanine?

Alanine is found primarily in the most protein-rich animal foods, including meat and fish.

Top 10 foods that contain alanine

  • Spirulina
  • Dried cod
  • Bacon
  • Steak
  • Veal
  • Lamb
  • Turkey
  • Smoked sturgeon
  • Wheat germ
  • Chicken

Daily alanine requirements

It is recommended to provide 500 to 2000mg of alanine per day for a healthy adult.

Consequences of an alanine deficiency

Alanine can be synthesized by the body, so it is not possible to be deficient.

Consequences of an excess of alanine

There are no scientific studies that have shown health problems related to an excess of alanine since the body regulates itself.

Aromate: what are the differences with spices?

Spices and aromatics are often used interchangeably to designate the same category of food. The dictionary defines them as "a vegetable substance that spreads an odor" for the aromatics and "a vegetable substance, aromatic or pungent, used to season dishes" for the spices.

The two are therefore very close and the notion of aromatic is confused with that of spice. They can improve dishes, but what are their differences? Do they have any benefits?

The differences between spice and aromatics

The origin

Spices and aromatics are mainly of vegetable origin. The majority of spices come from plants. It is easily possible to grow the majority of herbs in a vegetable garden at home. In the kitchen, they can be prepared fresh, as soon as picked, dried or frozen. One should not confuse herbs with aromatic plants such as garlic, shallots or onions.

On the other hand, spices are not necessarily plants. They can come from bark, flowers, leaves, fruits, bulbs and seeds. They are often obtained after drying or processing unlike herbs. Most of them originate from the East and have been brought to Europe over the years.


Both can be used in cooking, perfumery and medicine.

The purpose of the aromatic is to flavour a dish by modifying the aroma of the food by the effect of its own aroma. It plays mainly on the smell. Its scent counts more than its taste.

This is not the case for spices where their primary role is to spice up the dish, to enhance its taste. They also allow to give a singular and marked color to the dish. They are part of the gustatory domain while the aromatics perfume the dish, putting the taste in the background.


The aromatics can be preserved longer if they are dried or frozen. Fresh, it is advisable to use them quickly.

Spices have the particularity of not being perishable if they are well preserved, in a dry, airtight place and protected from humidity and light.

The benefits

There are many herbs: basil, dill, chives, mint, tarragon, thyme, rosemary, lemon balm, coriander, chervil, cardamom... and many spices like saffron, cinnamon, ginger, curry, paprika, pepper, cumin, nutmeg, star anise...

Each of them has particular properties and benefits.

The aromatics


It can help against fatigue, digestive spasms, nausea, colic or bloating.


It facilitates digestion and fights against gastric problems, colic and stomach aches.


It is rich in vitamins C, B2 and K, calcium, sodium, phosphorus and iron. It promotes good blood circulation.


It improves transit problems. It also has a diuretic effect and is good for joints and skin diseases.


It is known for its digestive virtues. It has the ability to relieve stomach cramps.


It is recognized for its antiseptic, anti-infectious and antispasmodic action.


It relieves intestinal bloating and abdominal pain by its spasmolytic action on the intestine and stomach.

Lemon balm

It relieves bloating, liver pain and soothes in case of mild depression, hypertension.


It contains seeds rich in taurine, vitamin C and linoleic acid.



It fights against insomnia, constipation, bloating and rheumatism.


It is rich in iron, potassium and calcium.


It is a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. It also facilitates digestion and helps against nausea.


It is a soothing spice that can help in case of fatigue, overwork, depression or anxiety.


It has antioxidant properties and helps protect the cardiovascular system and strengthen the immune system.


Helps regulate blood sugar levels and is useful against muscle and joint pain.


It is a digestive stimulant that promotes salivation and the production of gastric juices. It is also anti-inflammatory and antibacterial.

Star anise

It has a tonic action.

What do they have in common? 

The first common point of spices and aromatics is that they can bring a different taste, flavor, smell or fragrance. This makes it possible to limit the use of salt, to vary the seasoning of dishes and to never get bored.

They are also useful for enhancing or adding extra flavor to sweet foods. Adding a flavoring such as mint or a spice such as cinnamon to plain yogurt to replace sugar can be a good alternative.  

Spices and aromatics are different but both are an ally in our daily diet.

Spices: a little history

The history of spices begins in the field of medicine among ancestral populations. They were useful to preserve the remains and to heal, mainly with rosemary and sage. Over time, aromatics became useful for making oils, scented waters and beauty products.

During the renaissance, herbs became more and more popular and were used more and more in cooking. They were then somewhat left aside with the development of medicine and all other fields.

Today, herbs are being rediscovered for their nutritional and medicinal interests. 

Bifidus: fermented milks with bifidus, a detox ally?

A "fermented milk" is a dairy product obtained from different types of milk that have undergone fermentation with specific, living and active microorganisms. Three types of lactic bacteria are used: lactobacilli, lactococci and bifidobacteria. The type of bacteria used gives the product particular properties. Yogurt is a fermented milk which is the most consumed in France. It is inoculated with two bacteria: Lactobacillus bulgaricus (for acidity) and Streptococcus thermophilus (for taste). When the inoculation is made with bifidobacteria, i.e. bifidus, it is no longer a yogurt.

The latter is a bacterium commonly used in the food industry as a lactic ferment. These bacteria are naturally present in the intestinal flora of humans where they participate in the final stage of digestion and are therefore essential for the body. They can also be added to certain fermented milks where it is then called "fermented milk with bifidus".

The presence of these bacteria is very interesting because they can have beneficial effects for the body. Is bifidus really a detox ally? What are its benefits? Let's find out in this article.

What are the benefits of fermented milks with bifidus?

Probiotics are products that contain living micro-organisms such as bacteria or yeast, which exert a beneficial effect on the body that ingests them.

Bifidus fermented milks are probiotics. Their ferments help maintain the balance of the intestinal flora. They allow to maintain a good transit if their consumption is regular. They also help to fight against bloating and stomach aches.

Certain periods of life cause a decrease in the number of intestinal bacteria naturally present. This is the case when you take antibiotics, are very tired, have a bad diet or are under a lot of stress. This causes a less good digestion of food and often a decrease in the state of form. By their probiotic action, the consumption of fermented milks with bifidus allows to maintain the balance of the intestinal flora by reconstituting the number of bacteria. Their consumption allows in these cases to improve the state of fatigue and health.

They also allow a better digestion by reducing the effects of lactose intolerance. Lactose, which is the sugar naturally present in milk, is the cause of these intolerances. Bifidus allows the work of lactase to be done, which is the necessary enzyme that people with lactose intolerance lack. Lactose is therefore predigested in a way. This makes it possible to significantly reduce intolerance reactions.

The consumption of fermented milks with bifidus also plays a role with regard to the immune system. Indeed, bacteria interact with the cells of the immune system. A balanced microbiota is therefore essential for good health. Without microbiota, or with an unbalanced microbiota, the immune system is affected. These bacteria are therefore essential.

A detox ally?

Bifidus fermented milks are not "slimming" products. They do not make you lose weight or eliminate any particular toxin. They are therefore not "detox" foods. However, they clearly contribute to a better digestion and promote a good intestinal transit. They can therefore reduce bloating, stomach aches and allow better elimination. By this role and in certain cases, they can help to have a less swollen belly, without necessarily making lose weight.

They also help to maintain a good number of bacteria for the intestinal flora over the years. These effects are only interesting and felt if the consumption is almost daily.

What are the sources of bifidus?

Bifidus is a probiotic that is not naturally found in food, unlike other bacteria such as lactobacillus, which is naturally present in yogurt.

But there are many dairy products that are enriched with bifidus. These products do not have the right to be called "yogurt" because they are not made with the right ferments. These products are called "bifidus fermented milk" or "bifidus milk specialties". To be sure, it is best to look at the list of ingredients where the ferment used is noted. Look for "Bifidus", "Bifidobacterium" or "bifidobacteria" to recognize them.

These products are most often made from whole milk. The nutritional value is about the same as a traditional plain yogurt made from semi-skimmed milk. What is important is to choose these plain dairy products. Indeed, when they are flavored or with fruit, a lot of sugar is added. On average, there is the equivalent of 2 to 3 squares of sugar per jar. Choose them plain and flavour them yourself, at home, with sugar, honey, fruit, vanilla flavouring or any other ingredient of your choice.


The name "bifidus" comes from the adjective bifid, which means "that splits in two". This term is given in reference to the shape of the bacteria, which branches to divide. The genus name "Bifidobacterium" is derived from the Latin bifidus "split in two" and the Latin "bacterium" meaning "bacterium".

It is in 1899 that a pediatrician of the Pasteur Institute isolates a bifidobacterium, in the stool of an infant. Often confused with other similar bacteria such as Lactobacillus, it is much later, in the 1970s that this bacterium was identified as a full-fledged bacterium.

Bioflavonoids: health benefits and side effects

Bioflavonoids are present in the plant world and are also found in many foods: tea, apples, cocoa, pomegranate, grapes and coffee. There are more than 8000 varieties. Many virtues are attributed to bioflavonoids. But there are also side effects. What are their benefits and their dangers? Where to find them? Discover this in details.

Bioflavonoids, what are they?

Bioflavonoids were first called vitamin P, wrongly because it is not a vitamin. They are also known as flavonoids. They are substances present in plants, in the skin of fruits, in the white part of citrus fruits and in vegetables. They are responsible for the red, yellow and purple hues. They are therefore colored pigments that give a wide range of colors. In general, the more colored a food is, the richer it is in bioflavonoids. They also give taste to fruits and vegetables. Bioflavonoids have many indispensable roles in our body.

What are their benefits?

They are antioxidants

Bioflavonoids are super antioxidants. Indeed, the oxidative stress caused by free radicals weakens the good balance of the body. When the production of free radicals becomes too important, the antioxidant reserves become insufficient to stop the harmful effect of free radicals oxidation on tissues and cells. Bioflavonoids thus participate in maintaining and balancing the proper functioning of our body.

Prevention of cardiovascular diseases

Several studies have examined the relationship between the intake of bioflavonoids through the diet and cardiovascular diseases. These studies have shown that high intakes of quercetin and anthocyanins (types of bioflavonoids) were associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular problems. They therefore have a beneficial effect on our health by preventing physiological reactions that block the arteries.

Improvement of blood circulation

Other studies have shown that bioflavonoids, notably from rutin, relieve swelling of the legs and the pain associated with varicose veins. Rutin then helps to preserve the vein walls and strengthen the blood vessels.

Regulation of blood pressure

A study conducted in New York, hypothesized that people with high blood pressure have lower than average levels of bioflavonoids. This means that eating a lot of foods rich in bioflavonoids could reduce high blood pressure and thus reduce its consequences.

Treatment of allergies

Quercetin acts as a natural antihistamine. It has the ability to reduce the symptoms of seasonal or food allergies. It limits the release of histamines from certain immune cells, which leads to a decrease in allergy symptoms.

Prevention of certain pathologies and cancers

Several bioflavonoids help prevent certain diseases. This is the case of quercetin which plays a role in relation to diabetes. A good regular consumption could also reduce the risks of lung, pancreatic and stomach cancer.

Plant protection

Bioflavonoids also serve as protection for plants against UV rays or insect attack. However, even if they have many virtues, some side effects may exist.

The side effects

Reduction of blood pressure

Despite their positive effects in regulating blood pressure, there are also risks. This is related to the consumption of vitamin C. It has been shown that a good intake of vitamin C reduces blood pressure. It has also been shown that taking bioflavonoids, especially those from grape seeds, has no effect on blood pressure. However, taking both at the same time can cause a disturbance of blood pressure in hypertensive people.

Excess caffeine

Some plants very rich in bioflavonoids also contain a lot of caffeine. This is the case with tea, coffee or cocoa. A high consumption of foods rich in bioflavonoids leads to undesirable effects of caffeine like palpitations or insomnia.

Various ailments

A high concentration of quercetin can cause headaches or stomach aches. Before enriching your diet with bioflavonoids or taking supplements, it is important to ask your doctor for advice.

Guide of use

Where to find them?

There are different kinds of bioflavonoids found in many foods, mainly in fruits and vegetables.

Quercetin is mainly found in :
  • onions ;
  • capers ;
  • apples;
  • cherries;
  • broccoli.
Anthocyanins are particularly present in :
  • blueberry;
  • grape seeds;
  • red vine ;
  • eggplant;
  • raspberries;
  • plums.
Rutin is concentrated in buckwheat and citrus fruits such as orange and grapefruit. Flavanediols are found in:
  • cashew nuts;
  • peanuts
  • cocoa ;
  • and grapes.
Genistein is found in :
  • soybeans.
Bioflavonoids are concentrated in the skin of fruits and vegetables. It is therefore important to peel fruits and vegetables as little as possible before eating them to benefit from them. Moreover, they are heat-sensitive and water-soluble. They are then destroyed at high temperatures. It can be interesting to prefer raw fruits and vegetables, or steamed or stewed in a little water.

Plants are also rich in bioflavonoids

They are also concentrated in some food supplements. They are most often essential oils of citrus seeds, rich in hesperidin and rutin, or tablets.


Certain populations such as pregnant or breastfeeding women, children as well as people with blood clotting disorders or anticoagulant treatments should seek medical advice before starting a supplementation.


In food, bioflavonoids improve the action of vitamin C by increasing its absorption and delaying its elimination. In food supplements, there is a risk of interaction between quercetin and other food supplements or drugs such as anticoagulants or during chemotherapy. Always ask your doctor for advice.


Bioflavonoids were discovered by chance, while trying to treat venous problems. For this treatment, citrine was isolated from lemon because it has the capacity to increase capillary resistance by decreasing its permeability. This is how they first called it vitamin P, for "permeability". Later it was realized that its deficiency did not cause any particular symptoms and that it was therefore not a vitamin. From vitamin P, this substance becomes "flavonoids". Today, bioflavonoids are appearing more and more in pharmacies and continue to develop.

Cadmium: a dangerous metal

Lead, mercury or aluminum are metals qualified as "heavy metals" that are often accused of numerous health hazards. But what about cadmium? Is it dangerous for our health? Where is it found?

Let's discover this metal and its consequences in this article. 

What is cadmium?

Cadmium is a natural element that can be found everywhere, whether in batteries, television screens, solder, batteries, paint pigments, fertilizers or even pesticides.

Cadmium is also present in cigarette smoke where it is in the form of cadmium oxide and also in our food.

It is a silvery metal, which is soft and rather malleable and which tarnishes in the air. Its physical and chemical properties allow it to cross biological barriers and accumulate in the different tissues of the body.

The dangers of cadmium

Cadmium has no physiological role in the human body, but it does have a significant effect on health in general. The metal itself and its compounds are very toxic and harmful to the body.

Cadmium is absorbed through the respiratory and digestive tracts. It accumulates throughout our lives in the lungs, kidneys, liver and pancreas. The elimination of cadmium is done by urinary way. However, its low elimination does not compensate for its intake, which is now too high. Even at low concentrations, it can cause many disorders, more or less serious.

Absorption through the digestive tract

It can lead to complications ranging from a simple gastroenteritis with diarrhea, stomach pains or vomiting to anuria (total stop of urine secretion by the kidneys) or even respiratory failure which can lead to the death of the patient.

Absorption through the respiratory tract

It can go from a simple fever or more serious, leading to a very important breathlessness or cyanosis (due to insufficient oxygenation of the blood). Smokers are more exposed to cadmium by the respiratory route. With smoke, the exposure is done in the form of small particles of cadmium oxide which will be deposited in the pulmonary alveoli.

Too much cadmium absorption also reduces the absorption of calcium and its action on the body, particularly on bone tissue. This can lead to various bone disorders such as bone fractures, osteoporosis or osteomalacia (bone pathology).

In general, cadmium intoxication is manifested by :
  • dizziness ;
  • Bone pain;
  • Respiratory problems;
  • anemia;
  • or lesions at the level of the kidneys. 
This intoxication can lead to other complications such as central nervous system problems, disturbed fertility, immune system complications or DNA alteration. It is also suspected to be a risk factor for different types of cancers.

Cadmium is therefore a dangerous metal for health with multiple consequences. 

Where can it be found?

In the environment

Cadmium is found naturally in soils and more significantly in soils near polluted sites, for example, following the spreading of contaminated sludge. Some fertilizers are also a source of cadmium contamination in soils. It is also in the air following the combustion of coal or oil products for example. In water, it is also found as a result of soil erosion and atmospheric deposition, due to industrial waste dumps, soil fertilizers or wastewater.

Cadmium in food

Cadmium can be absorbed from the food we eat and is the main source of cadmium exposure for non-smokers.

The foods that contribute most to cadmium exposure are:
  • mussels ;
  • mollusks ; 
  • shellfish 
  • seaweed
  • rice;
  • cereals such as wheat;
  • vegetables grown with fertilizers;
  • or potatoes.
Recommendations, in particular by the ANSES, are made to reduce as much as possible the concentration of cadmium in food and thus our exposure to this dangerous metal.

Properties of cadmium

Cadmium is a chemical element whose atomic number is 48 and its symbol is Cd. This metal has many similarities with zinc but is chemically less reactive. Cadmium has a good resistance to corrosion and more particularly in marine environment.


The discovery of cadmium was made around 1817 from zinc carbonate. It owes him besides are name. Indeed, cadmium comes from the Latin "cadmia" which is the name formerly given to zinc carbonate.

The toxicity of cadmium was discovered very early, when scientists observed that cadmium caused tissue damage when inhaled or ingested.

Total cholesterol: everything you need to know about cholesterol

Cholesterol is a lipid belonging to the sterol family. Although it has received bad press in recent years, cholesterol is an essential nutrient for the proper functioning of the body. It is mainly synthesized in the liver but can also be supplied by the diet. Within the human body, cholesterol can be transported by different specific proteins, including HDL cholesterol and LDL cholesterol. Including the levels of these two transporters within the body, total cholesterol, or cholesterol levels, is a commonly measured value to prevent or identify high cholesterol.

Cholesterol Characteristics:
  • Lipid of the sterol family essential to the body
  • HDL and LDL cholesterol are two cholesterol transporters
  • Found mostly in animal products
  • In excess, it increases the risk of cardiovascular accidents

Why eat foods rich in cholesterol?

Benefits and roles of cholesterol

Structural role of cholesterol

Cholesterol is involved in the structure of cell membranes. It enters the composition of the lipidic bilayers of the membranes by intercalating between the phospholipids. Cholesterol thus contributes to the stability and reinforcement of membranes.

Role as a precursor for the synthesis of hormones and vitamins

Cholesterol is a precursor of many molecules essential to the body. It participates for example in the synthesis of :
  • steroid hormones such as aldosterone and cortisol ;
  • steroidal sex hormones such as estrogen, progesterone and testosterone;
  • Vitamin D.

Role of cholesterol in digestion

Cholesterol contributes to the synthesis of bile salts found in bile, a liquid necessary for the digestion of lipids.

What is total cholesterol?

The calculation of total cholesterol takes into account the level of HDL cholesterol and LDL cholesterol. It is considered to be less than 2g/L. The analysis of total cholesterol is a good start but it is not enough, it is also important to know precisely the levels of LDL, HDL as well as the ratio total cholesterol/HDL.

What is the total cholesterol/HDL ratio?

The total cholesterol/HDL ratio is a measure of cardiovascular risk. It is less and less used. However, it is still considered that above 4.0 there is a significant arterial risk.

Foods rich in cholesterol

Cholesterol is found in foods of animal origin. Among them, here are 10 of the foods richest in cholesterol:

Food (per 100 g) ; Cholesterol content (in mg)
  • Brains 3100
  • Egg yolk 1140
  • Duck liver 1040
  • Lamb kidney 588
  • Snout 587
  • Poultry liver 530
  • Cod liver oil 510
  • Lamb liver 410
  • Veal kidney 396
  • Butter 215

How to use cholesterol properly?

Use of cholesterol

Cholesterol is an essential nutrient for the proper functioning of the body, but the human body has the ability to synthesize it. More than two thirds of the cholesterol in the body is synthesized by the liver. The rest comes from food sources such as meat and eggs.

With a few exceptions, it is believed that the body can produce enough cholesterol to meet its daily needs. A normal adult total cholesterol level is considered to be less than 2 g/L, or 5 mmol/L. However, this reference value can vary depending on various parameters including age, gender and medical history.

Analysis of cholesterol levels and normal values

The blood test allows to know precisely the values of the different lipids circulating in the blood. Here are the reference values for interpreting blood tests.

Blood levels ; Normal reference values
  • Total cholesterol < 2g/L
  • LDL < 1.6g/L
  • HDL > 0.35g/L
  • Total cholesterol/HDL < 4
  • Triglycerides <1.5g/L

Adverse effects of cholesterol

High total cholesterol: what are the risks?

Excess cholesterol, or hypercholesterolemia, is a major public health problem. It corresponds to a total cholesterol level higher than 2 g/l. Indeed, high cholesterol increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases. In excess in the body, cholesterol tends to accumulate in the artery walls, which leads to the formation of atherosclerotic plaque. This is called atherosclerosis and the consequences for health can be serious. The flow of blood is disrupted, which increases the risk of high blood pressure. The rupture of an atheromatous plaque can also lead to a myocardial infarction, a stroke or an obliterating arthriopathy of the lower limbs (AOMI).

Low total cholesterol: what are the consequences?

Cholesterol deficiency, or hypocholesterolemia, is a rare phenomenon. It can be genetic or secondary in origin. This means that it can be the consequence of another phenomenon such as :
  • undernutrition ;
  • a malabsorption of cholesterol;
  • a pathology such as cancer
  • a depressive state.

Interactions with other nutrients

Recent studies highlight the possible interactions between vitamin E and certain molecules used to treat hypercholesterolemia. Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant often taken in the form of food supplements to fight against cellular aging. However, this fat-soluble vitamin would significantly reduce the effectiveness of cholesterol-lowering drugs and would partly cancel the protective effect of these treatments on the cardiovascular system. It is therefore recommended that you seek medical advice before taking vitamin E if you suffer from hypercholesterolemia.

Chemical properties

The raw formula of cholesterol is C27H46O, its molar mass is 386.6535 g/mol. Cholesterol is a lipid belonging to the sterol family and plays a central role in many metabolic reactions.

The cholesterol molecule is bipolar, only the hydrophilic head has an OH molecule. If this OH molecule is esterified by a fatty acid, the cholesterol molecule becomes totally insoluble in water. It is in this esterified form, or sterides, that cholesterol circulates in the liver, brain and marrow.

The term "good" or "bad" cholesterol is often used to define HDL cholesterol and LDL cholesterol. However, there is only one molecule of cholesterol. HDL and LDL are only carriers of this single molecule. LDL transports cholesterol from the liver to the tissues, promoting deposits in the arteries, while HDL transports cholesterol from the tissues to the liver.


History of the nutrient

It was while analyzing gallstones that F. Poulletier first discovered the existence of cholesterol in 1758. However, it was not until the 1950s that the role of cholesterol, and more particularly of LDL, was recognized in the occurrence of cardiovascular diseases.

It was only after the Second World War that A. Keys highlighted the role of diet in the prevention of hypercholesterolemia. He is at the origin of the very famous Mediterranean diet.

It was not until 1973 that the biochemist A. Endo discovered the first statin. Since then, statins have been used on a very large scale to limit the cardiovascular risks associated with hypercholesterolemia throughout the world.

Food supplements: how to choose them?

Food supplements are concentrated sources of nutrients, i.e. vitamins and minerals, substances with a nutritional or physiological purpose, or plants and plant preparations that are intended to compensate for deficiencies in a person's regular diet.

Characteristic of a food supplement :
  • Concentrated source of one or more nutrients
  • Often specific to certain pathologies, situations or periods of life
  • Does not replace a balanced and varied diet
  • It is essential to respect the dosage to avoid the risk of overdosing
  • Self-medication is strongly discouraged

Why consume food supplements?

Food supplements: definition and benefits

Supplements can come in different forms: capsules, pastilles, tablets, pills, powder packets, liquid ampoules, bottles with a dropper, solutions, etc...

Authorized food supplements

The European Union has issued a list of vitamins and minerals authorized in the manufacture of food supplements:

  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin B1
  • Vitamin B2
  • Vitamin B3
  • Vitamin B5
  • Vitamin B6
  • Vitamin B8
  • Vitamin B9
  • Vitamin B12
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin D
  • Vitamin E
  • Vitamin K
  • Calcium
  • Chloride
  • Chromium
  • Copper
  • Iron
  • Fluorine
  • Iodine
  • Magnesium
  • Manganese 
  • Molybdenum
  • Phosphorus
  • Potassium
  • Selenium
  • Sodium
  • Zinc

Good to know:

The advertising, promotion and labeling of dietary supplements must not state that these products have properties to prevent, treat or cure any disease. Nor should they suggest that they are a substitute for a varied and healthy diet. Similarly, they should not claim that a diversified diet does not contain enough vitamins and minerals.

As for the plants used in dietary supplements, they must be included in the list of plants authorized for over-the-counter sale.

The main types of vitamin supplements on the market

On the market, there are various categories of vitamin supplements. Here is a list of the most sought-after supplements on the market:
  • Food supplements for hair and beard
  • Protein-based dietary supplements for bodybuilding and sports
  • Food supplements to gain weight or to lose weight
  • Organic and natural food supplements
  • Iron, zinc and antioxidant food supplements
  • Food supplements specific to pregnancy
  • Food supplements against arthritis

What is nutricosmetics?

Nutricosmetics is a term from the cosmetics industry that refers to any dietary supplement that acts on the health of the hair, skin, nails, eyelashes, etc. This term can also refer to supplements that are used in the cosmetics industry. This term can also refer to supplements intended for weight loss, cellulite reduction, muscle mass gain, etc. Among the vitamins and minerals favored by nutricosmetics are vitamin C, which helps maintain firm and elastic skin by stimulating collagen production, and proteins, which help protect the skin, hair and nails by activating keratin production. Iron also helps to strengthen the nails and omega-3, which plays an essential role in cell renewal.

Please note that even the best specific dietary supplements (for hair, against osteoarthritis, etc.) are never a substitute for a diversified and balanced diet. Indeed, the effectiveness of the products currently available on the market has not been proven.

How to use food supplements properly?

Use of supplements

Although a balanced diet is necessary for good health, our current lifestyle sometimes tends to interfere with this balance. In this case, it may be wise to opt for food supplements to compensate for possible deficiencies in intake.

Recommended dietary allowances

The official nutrient intakes are designated under different names depending on the country and their standards may vary. They indicate, according to age and sex, the quantities of nutrients needed to maintain good health. By evaluating your daily intake of each essential nutrient, you will be able to suspect a possible deficiency. However, it is strongly recommended that you ask your doctor or pharmacist before taking a food supplement. Remember to read the instructions carefully, especially if you decide to combine different types of food supplements.

Special situations

Some special situations may require supplements to compensate for the lack of certain nutrients. Some doctors strongly recommend that their pregnant patients take supplements containing iron, calcium or vitamin B9, since these nutrients are essential for a healthy pregnancy. Women with heavy periods may also be asked to take an iron supplement. People with special diets, such as vegetarians and vegans, or people who are very active are also more likely to need to use supplements.

Good to know:

In Europe, recommended intakes are referred to as Recommended Daily Allowances (RDAs), while in France they are called Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs). Canada and the United States have aligned their standards and called them Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs). The DRIs are divided into four types of reference values: Estimated Average Requirement (EAR), Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA), Adequate Intake (AI) and Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL). DRIs are calculated for all nutrients for which sufficient information is available.

How to read the label of dietary supplements

The label of a dietary supplement should include the following information:
  • The name of the categories of nutrients or substances characterizing the product or an indication of the nature of these nutrients or substances
  • The quantity of vitamins and minerals present in the product must be indicated in numerical form in units of weight
  • The percentage of vitamins and minerals in relation to the recommended daily intake shall be indicated
  • The recommended daily intake must be stated
  • The label must indicate how the product should be used (amount, frequency, special circumstances)
  • A warning that it is not advisable to exceed the recommended daily intake
  • A statement that dietary supplements should not be used as a substitute for a healthy and varied diet
  • A warning that the products should be kept out of the reach of children

Undesirable effects of food supplements

Dietary supplements should not replace, but rather supplement, the nutrients that must be provided by the diet. Moreover, it is advisable to follow the dosage carefully because an underdose will have no effect and an overdose may cause undesirable effects.


By following the dietary recommendations that help to know how to eat a balanced diet, a person should consume daily all the vitamins and minerals he needs. However, a study conducted by the Institut de Veille Sanitaire (InVS) revealed that nearly 80% of the French population suffers from a vitamin D deficiency. Another important deficiency is iron deficiency: between 20% and 25% of the world's population is affected by this deficiency, which is called iron deficiency anemia. These deficiencies are partly linked to a poorly varied diet and a lack of fruits and vegetables. 

Ineffectiveness of certain supplements

A study conducted in 2006 and 2007 by the French Agency for Food Safety (AFSSA) showed that 20% of adults had consumed at least one food supplement during the year. However, there is not enough research or scientific rigor to demonstrate with certainty the effectiveness of dietary supplements. In 2010, a study presented at the International Congress on Obesity in Stockholm (Sweden) has, for example, highlighted the ineffectiveness of supplements for slimming.

Risks in case of excessive intake of food supplements

The majority of food supplements are highly concentrated in vitamins and minerals. An unadvised consumption can therefore be dangerous for your health. Various studies have noted the risk of cardiovascular problems, increased mortality in older people, the development of certain types of cancer, particularly lung cancer, bone problems and kidney dysfunctions. Care should be taken when taking a dietary supplement. The advice of a health care professional is strongly recommended.

Interactions (with other nutrients)

Many dietary supplements can interact with each other and/or with certain drug treatments. Possible interactions must be taken very seriously to avoid serious consequences. In general, do not self-medicate and talk to your doctor about your supplementation project.


History of supplements

Although dietary supplements are very recent, their entry on the market is strongly linked to health problems that have occurred in the past centuries, such as scurvy caused by a lack of vitamin C, rickets, bone deformities, etc. In fact, dietary supplements were first developed to prevent various health problems. Today, the use of these supplements extends to the search for well-being, beauty, form, tone and delaying aging. There are thousands of them on the market.

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