We recognize next come nothing about the vast bulk of link in our diet. Now researchers are finding methods to study this "nutritional dark matter" – and also what it can mean because that our health

by Graham Lawton

Lew Robertson/Getty photos

TODAY ns searched my kitchen cupboards for dark matter, and also found it in a packet that Korean instant noodles. The food brand ran come 38 ingredients, many of them additives. But it also provided some genuine foods, consisting of soy, chilli, sesame, shrimp, cabbage, seaweed, mushroom, anchovy and cuttlefish. And also the one ns was spring for, garlic.

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To it is in clear, I’m not saying that garlic has actual dark matter, the 85 per cent or so of material in the cosmos that physicists to speak is there however cannot observe directly. But it does contain what has actually been referred to as “nutritional dark matter”: the thousands and also thousands of compound that room in food but which, till recently, were totally unknown, and which might be affecting our health. Given that eating is among the huge human universals, that’s a mind-boggling oversight.

“Our knowledge of just how diet affects health is restricted to 150 an essential nutritional components,” says Albert-László Barabási in ~ Harvard clinical School, that coined the term nutritional dark matter. “But this represent just a small portion of the biochemicals current in our food.” the is time, he says, for nutritionists to go dark-matter hunting, to massively expand our understanding of what is on ours plate and its affect on us.

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The idea the food is a affluent and complicated mix that biochemicals is hardly news. Also the well-known macronutrients – proteins, carbohydrates and fats – are hugely diverse. There’s likewise a huge supporting actors of micronutrients: minerals, vitamins and also other biochemicals, numerous of which are only existing in minuscule quantities, but which deserve to still have profound health effects.

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