Nutritional treasures found in moose meat, antlers
The compounds could be used in nutraceutical and specialized food products
A scientist in Corner Brook has found a few more important reasons to get your moose each season.
Raymond Thomas and his team have found evidence of particular types of functional lipids in moose and caribou meat, and in moose antlers, that have shown promise in the treatment of diabetes, inflammation and cardiovascular diseases.
"I've realized from my time here that moose is very, very popular as part of the Newfoundland landscape for positive and negative reasons, so I decided that I was going to look at the lipid profile … of the antlers," said Thomas, whose team is based in the Functional Foods Laboratory on Memorial University's Grenfell campus.
He found three very special compounds: monoacetyldiglycerides, diglycerides and fatty acid esters of hydroxy fatty acids, in both moose and caribou meat and in moose antlers.
For comparison, a type of red deer in Korea whose antlers are often used in traditional medicine contains only one of those three compounds.
New source could lead to new products
His team's discovery opens up the door for new sources of the lipids for nutraceutical products or for specialized food products.
It could also be a boost for disease specialists.
"They would have … new sources of these compounds to see if they have benefit beyond what is currently available."
Though the lipids don't show up in high concentrations, a little goes a long way.
"They're very potent in their bioactivity at low concentrations," he told CBC Radio's On the Go.
Antlers have a higher concentration of the treasured compounds than meat, he said.
Thomas and his team published their findings in the open-source chemistry journal Molecules, and their discovery has been chosen as the cover story for the journal's print edition.
Thomas said they published their results in an open-access journal so other scientists could delve into their findings and figure out how to best use this big nutritional find.
As for he and his team, they've got a few ideas about where they'd like to take these moose molecules, but "as a scientist, you don't really want to throw everything on the table," he said, laughing.