“It’s not true that food that tastes good is bad for you,” says Valerio Sanguigni, a cardiologist at the University of Rome Tor Vergata who has done research into gelato that both tastes good and is rich in antioxidants.
Sanguigni, a professor at the Rome university, has patented a dessert, a chocolate, hazelnut and green-tea gelato, which has a high concentration of antioxidants and is great for our health. Prof. Sanguigni claims that this treat can make the young run faster and keep the elderly in better health.
Underscoring the properties of foods that are rich in antioxidants, Sanguigni notes that the foods that best maintain these benefits are nuts, cocoa beans and green tea when kept at low temperatures. Hence his patented gelato, which he has named Powellnux.
The professor says that there are many antioxidant-rich foods, including various red fruits such as pomegranate, goji berries and blueberries. However, many of these foods lose these properties from the moment they are harvested to when we actually consume them. Foods that maintain their beneficial properties best are nuts, cocoa beans and green tea, particularly when maintained at low temperatures, which makes a gelato with these ingredients the best suited to a healthy diet.
But we’ll have to wait a bit more for this elixir to make it to the table, because testing is still under way. So far, this healthy treat has only been produced in small doses for every scientific test imaginable. “The cream base has been produced by a desserts lab in northern Italy, an area known for its hazelnuts, based on a secret recipe. The final product—the actual gelato—is being produced by a gelateria in the heart of Rome.”
Of course, there was no shortage of volunteers for these tests. A total of 14 people, ages 20 to 38, were subjected to blood tests before and after eating a 100-gram scoop of this gelato and were also asked to demonstrate their fitness on an stationary bicycle, given that, right from the start, Sanguigni’s goal has been to generate benefits for
The results of these tests have been published in the science journal Nutrition. The article notes, “The formation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) contributes to the pathogenesis and progression of several diseases. Polyphenols have been shown to be beneficial against ROS.” Tests have shown that, two hours after ingesting the gelato, polyphenols in the blood significantly increased, as did nitric oxide, which Sanguigni explains has a positive effect on the ability of blood vessels to dilate, adding that microcirculation, an indicator of tissue oxygenation, also improves. In fact, the volunteers were able to achieve the same performance on the stationary bike while maintaining a lower heart rate and lower blood pressure, an effect that had not been seen previously in studies using other antioxidants and one which could attract a great deal of attention from athletes.
According to Prof. Sanguigni, who worked with a team of four other experts in endocrinology and statistics, the article in Nutrition is the world’s first scientific paper to show that, with certain ingredients and characteristics, gelato can indeed provide health benefits and enhance physical performance, saying, too, that this “exquisite flavor could be considered the first example of what I would call ‘natural dietary medicines’.”