Those who love beer would know that hops are what give the drink its bitterness and aroma. Now, scientists have found that part of hops which is not used for making beer contains healthy antioxidants and could be used to battle cavities and gum disease.
"Antioxidant polyphenols in the hop leaves (called bracts) could help fight cavities and gum disease," said Japanese researcher Yoshihisa Tanaka. Bracts are not used for making beer and are discarded. Thus, there is potentially a large amount of bracts that could be re-purposed for dental applications.
Extracts from bracts stopped the bacteria responsible for these dental conditions from being able to stick to surfaces and prevented the release of some bacterial toxins. Tanaka and his colleagues decided to investigate what substances in these leaves might cause those healthy effects.
Using a technique called chromatography, they found three new compounds, one already known compound that was identified for the first time in plants and 20 already known compounds that were found for the first time in hops.
The bracts also contained substantial amounts of proanthocyanidins, which are healthful antioxidants, said Tanaka in a study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.