Brain Fuel

Paperback $15.00

Anchor Canada | May 11, 2010 | 288 Pages | 5-1/2 x 8-1/4 | ISBN 9780385666039

  • Paperback$15.00

    Anchor Canada | May 11, 2010 | 288 Pages | 5-1/2 x 8-1/4 | ISBN 9780385666039

  • Ebook$11.99

    Anchor Canada | May 11, 2010 | ISBN 9780307372567

Praise

“Falling in love, we all know, is a matter of the right chemistry. Schwarcz gets his chemistry right, and hooks his readers.”
— John C. Polanyi, Nobel Laureate

“Informative [and] fascinating.”
The Globe and Mail

“Packed with scientific answers to questions you didn’t even know you had.”
— Chatelaine

Table Of Contents

1. Introduction
2. Potions from the Past
3. Food Stuff
4. To Your Health
5. Toxic Relationships
6. Mysterious Connections
7. Chemicals in Action
8. Just Amazing
9. Curiouser and Curiouser

Index

Video & Media

Watch Dr. Joe perform experiments on everyday items.

Author Essay

What causes the often-seen green discolouration in potatoes?
 
Exposure to light. The green tint often seen near the surface of potatoes is due to chlorophyll, the pigment in plants that makes photosynthesis possible. Essentially, when potatoes are exposed to excessive light, they will try to photosynthesize; in other words they will try to sprout and grow into potato plants. The green colour is completely harmless, but another substance, called solanine, forms at the same time as chlorophyll. The theory is that this natural toxin forms as the potato tries to protect itself against pests and fungi during the critical sprouting process. Solanine, which falls into the family of compounds known as glycoalkaloids, can be toxic to humans. One would have to eat a fair amount of green potatoes to experience serious toxic effects, but even small doses can cause stomach problems. It is best to peel away the green, which will remove most of the solanine, which tends to concentrate near the surface of the tuber. The best way to avoid discoloration and potential health problems is to keep the potatoes out of the light and store them at a cool temperature. The production of solanine involves an enzymatic reaction that proceeds slowly at low temperatures. So don’t worry about a little green discoloration in your potatoes, but do not go out of your way looking for green potatoes to eat.


From the Trade Paperback edition.

 

What causes the often-seen green discolouration in potatoes?
 
Exposure to light. The green tint often seen near the surface of potatoes is due to chlorophyll, the pigment in plants that makes photosynthesis possible. Essentially, when potatoes are exposed to excessive light, they will try to photosynthesize; in other words they will try to sprout and grow into potato plants. The green colour is completely harmless, but another substance, called solanine, forms at the same time as chlorophyll. The theory is that this natural toxin forms as the potato tries to protect itself against pests and fungi during the critical sprouting process. Solanine, which falls into the family of compounds known as glycoalkaloids, can be toxic to humans. One would have to eat a fair amount of green potatoes to experience serious toxic effects, but even small doses can cause stomach problems. It is best to peel away the green, which will remove most of the solanine, which tends to concentrate near the surface of the tuber. The best way to avoid discoloration and potential health problems is to keep the potatoes out of the light and store them at a cool temperature. The production of solanine involves an enzymatic reaction that proceeds slowly at low temperatures. So don’t worry about a little green discoloration in your potatoes, but do not go out of your way looking for green potatoes to eat.

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