Prosciutto di Parma, a delicacy produced for 2000 years.
Four centuries before Christ, Hippocrates, considered the father of medicine, said: "Make food your medicine." The board remains very current. Increasingly people have become a major power allies in the quest for health and for whom part of this contingent, some good news: Scientists Lab Thomson Mass Spectrometry, Institute of Chemistry (IQ) of (Unicamp, Brazil St. Paulo Campinas) recently set a new naturally occurring pigment types in hams "Parma" and "Iberia".
Delicacy produced for 2000 years, the legitimate Parma ham, (produced in Parma, as the name suggests), receives no preservatives or chemical additives. The healing process is at least twelve months, during which time the ham is in ventilated environments. The secret and magic of taste, as highlighted by the site sensitivity and taste, comes from pigs reared exclusively in Italy, and the curing time, where the aroma of the woods in the region gives a special flavor to the meat.
Made in small family businesses, with Italian recipes passed from generation to generation for hundreds of years, beyond the borders of Italy, and today is known worldwide, but it only happened after the industrial districts have been established for over 50 years. Of the 9 million hams produced per year, 7.5 million are consumed in Italy and 1.5 million are exported to 40 countries.
The substance, called zinc-porphyrin, is an important source of zinc, mineral relatively scarce in foodstuffs. "Associated with Vitamin C, for example, zinc favors the increase of resistance by the immune system," says food scientist Rodrigo Catharino, one of the team responsible for the study. He said the next step is to synthesize the pigment, which may enable its addition to other food products.
Laboratory got help from the institution of Denmark
The prosciutto di Parma receives no preservatives or additives and is good for health.
The Unicamp researchers decided to study the pigment of Parma ham and Iberian for one simple reason. Both products integrate the so-called Mediterranean diet, which according to various studies contribute to increase the longevity of the inhabitants of some regions of Greece, Portugal, Spain, Italy and France among other countries. Besides the built-in, these populations often consume olive oil, oregano and wine, ingredients considered highly beneficial to health. The first question that occurred to the scientists was: what is the pigment responsible for the characteristic color of sausages, since they only carry salt in their preparation, dispensing dyes and preservatives?
To answer this question, experts IQ had the help of the scientist Jens K. S. Moller, The Royal Veterinary and Agricultural University, the institution of Denmark, who has been investigating the pigment from Parma and Iberian, but had failed to define its structure. Moller sent the data generated by their studies and facilitated contact with the team from Unicamp manufacturers of sausages, which have sent samples for laboratory tests. According to Rodrigo Catharino, determining the pigment was made with the aid of a device called a mass spectrometer and using a technique dubbed electrospray ionization.
After about ten trials with each type of ham, the Unicamp researchers finally determined the pigment. The name zinc-porphyrin was based on two main ingredients of the natural dye. This explains Rodrigo Catharino has its origin in reactions that occur during the maturation process of the meat. "An interesting feature of this pigment is that besides helping to give a healthy look to the hams, it also nourishes. The presence of zinc gives a gain for the body because the mineral promotes a greater resistance from the immune system, "says the scientist.
After determining the pigment, Thomson Lab team is already preparing to develop a second study about the substance. The new stage is the attempt of synthesis of zinc-porphyrin. If this is feasible, it could be produced in the laboratory, which makes possible the eventual addition of other food products. A survey of Parma and Iberian hams produced an article that has been accepted for publication in the Meat Science, one of the most important scientific journals in the segment. "In addition to opening the prospect for large-scale use of a new pigment that brings health benefits, this type of research demonstrates the ability of Brazilians to do cutting-edge science.