Friday, 1 November 2019

October phytochemicals: what gives pumpkin spice its flavor?

A mouthful to say and something to avoid putting in your mouth: Oxalyldiaminopropionic acid - a neurotransmitter analog from the legume Lathyrus sativus - can cause lathyrism, a neurological disorder + lower body paralysis and (lookout!) gluteal emaciation! #PhytochemicalFriday

This #PhytochemicalFriday, be thankful for processing that removes alkaloids (like the pyrrolizidine ester amabiline) from apparently hangover-curing borage oil. Far from amable, amabiline is toxic to the liver and is one of several Boraginales alkaloids that can kill Amoebozoa.

Happy #PhytochemicalFriday! Furfural - though not strictly a plant chemical, it is a byproduct of agricultural plant processing (oats, corn, etc.). It's also part of the smell of old books, and its abundance can apparently be used to gauge the age and condition of some books.

If you taste pumpkin spice this fall, note that some of the flavors in many such lattes come from zingiberene - a compound that also contributes to the characteristic flavor of ginger rhizomes (Zingiber officinale). Happy #PhytochemicalFriday!