Chocolate, tea or coffee with zinc could reduce oxidative stress

November 2, 2018, University of Erlangen-Nuremberg
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

Ageing and a low life expectancy are caused, at least partly, by oxidative stress. A team of researchers led by Prof. Dr. Ivana Ivanovi-Burmazovi from the Chair of Bioinorganic Chemistry at Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU), together with researchers from the USA, have discovered that zinc can activate an organic molecule helping to protect against oxidative stress.

Zinc is a trace mineral humans need in order to remain healthy. FAU researchers working together with Prof. Dr. Christian Goldsmith from Auburn University, Alabama, U.S., have discovered that can protect against the superoxide responsible for oxidative stress when taken together with a component found in foodstuffs such as wine, coffee, tea and chocolate. This component is a hydroquinone group found in polyphenols—the plant substances responsible for smell and taste. Zinc activates the hydroquinone groups, producing natural protection against superoxide, a byproduct of human cell respiration that damages the body's own biomolecules, for example, proteins or lipids, as well as the human genome. Superoxide is thought to have a role to play in the ageing process and a number of illnesses such as inflammation, cancer or neurodegenerative diseases.

New metal complex against superoxide

Hydroquinone alone is not capable of breaking down superoxide. If zinc and hydroquinone combine, however, a is created which imitates a superoxide dismutase enzyme (SOD). These enzymes protect the body from the degradation processes caused by oxidation and have an antioxidative . In this way, the can be metabolised and damage to the organism prevented; oxidative is avoided.

Chocolate, coffee etc. with added zinc

For the first time, the function of this enzyme has been copied without reverting to redox-active transition metals such as manganese, iron, copper or nickel. While the metals could also have an antioxidative effect, any positive effects are quickly outweighed by the fact that if too much is taken, they can increase . Zinc is much less toxic than the transition metals mentioned above, making it possible to create new medication or supplements with considerably fewer side effects. It would also be plausible to add zinc to food containing hydroquinone naturally to boost health. "It is certainly possible that wine, coffee, tea or chocolate may well be available in the future with added zinc. However, any alcohol content whatsoever would destroy the positive effects of this combination," says Ivana Ivanovi-Burmazovi.

Explore further: Zinc supply affects cardiac health

More information: Meghan B. Ward et al, Superoxide dismutase activity enabled by a redox-active ligand rather than metal, Nature Chemistry (2018). DOI: 10.1038/s41557-018-0137-1

Related Stories

Zinc supply affects cardiac health

April 18, 2017

In addition to essential metabolic functions, the level of zinc in the body also affects the heart muscle. When oxidative stress occurs, it may be due to a shortage of zinc, which can be determined by examining the heart ...

Using zinc oxide nanoparticles as fertilizers

October 11, 2017

Researchers from Universidad Politécnica de Madrid (UPM) and National Institute for Agricultural Research and Experimentation (INIA) have studied the effects of using zinc oxide nanoparticles on agriculture.

Recommended for you

What happened before the Big Bang?

March 26, 2019

A team of scientists has proposed a powerful new test for inflation, the theory that the universe dramatically expanded in size in a fleeting fraction of a second right after the Big Bang. Their goal is to give insight into ...

Cellular microRNA detection with miRacles

March 26, 2019

MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are short noncoding regulatory RNAs that can repress gene expression post-transcriptionally and are therefore increasingly used as biomarkers of disease. Detecting miRNAs can be arduous and expensive as ...

Race at the edge of the sun: Ions are faster than atoms

March 26, 2019

Scientists at the University of Göttingen, the Institut d'Astrophysique in Paris and the Istituto Ricerche Solari Locarno have observed that ions move faster than atoms in the gas streams of a solar prominence. The results ...

Physicists discover new class of pentaquarks

March 26, 2019

Tomasz Skwarnicki, professor of physics in the College of Arts and Sciences at Syracuse University, has uncovered new information about a class of particles called pentaquarks. His findings could lead to a new understanding ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.