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Dvortygirl via Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0
Dvortygirl via Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0

Canadian Scientists Find Medicinal Properties in Maple Syrup Compound

Dvortygirl via Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0
Dvortygirl via Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0

Scientists say they have found potential medicinal properties in a maple syrup molecule.

Quebecol, a chemical compound with the most Canadian name ever, was first discovered in 2011. Quebecol is only found in maple syrup, not sap, which suggests that the compound is a product of the extraction or processing stages.

Other researchers began testing the molecule to find out what it could do, and some of the resulting studies suggested that quebecol might have potential as an anti-cancer drug. One study noted that it displays some similarity to tamoxifen, an antiestrogen drug often used to treat breast cancer.

To find out more, scientists at Quebec City’s Université Laval created a petri dish model of inflammation in the body. "We take blood cells called macrophages and put them with bacterial toxins," researcher Daniel Grenier said in a press release. "Macrophages usually react by triggering an inflammatory response. But if the culture medium contains an anti-inflammatory molecule, this response is blocked."

The researchers found that adding quebecol to the petri dish stopped inflammation before it even started. The same was true for synthetic quebecol-like chemicals. The research team published its findings in Bioorganic & Medicinal Chemistry Letters. As quoted in the press release, chemist and co-author Normand Voyer said, "This paves the way for a whole new class of anti-inflammatory agents, inspired by quebecol, that could compensate for the low efficacy of certain treatments while reducing the risk of side effects.”

Not too shabby, eh?

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fun
Don't Have Space For a Christmas Tree? Decorate a Pineapple Instead
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Christmas trees aren't for everyone. Some people can't fit a fir inside their cramped abodes, while others are turned off by the expense, or by the idea of bugs hitchhiking their way inside. Fake trees are always an option, but a new trend sweeping Instagram—pineapples as mini-Christmas "trees"—might convince you to forego the forest vibe for a more tropical aesthetic.

As Thrillist reports, the pineapple-as-Christmas-tree idea appears to have originated on Pinterest before it, uh, ripened into a social media sensation. Transforming a pineapple into a Halloween “pumpkin” requires carving and tea lights, but to make the fruit festive for Christmas all one needs are lights, ornaments, swaths of garland, and any other tiny tchotchkes that remind you of the holidays. The final result is a tabletop decoration that's equal parts Blue Hawaii and Miracle on 34th Street.

In need of some decorating inspiration? Check out a variety of “Christmas tree” pineapples below.

[h/t Thrillist]

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Food
A Pitless Avocado Wants to Keep You Safe From the Dreaded 'Avocado Hand'
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The humble avocado is a deceptively dangerous fruit. Some emergency room doctors have recently reported an uptick in a certain kind of injury—“avocado hand,” a knife injury caused by clumsily trying to get the pit out of an avocado with a knife. There are ways to safely pit an avocado (including the ones likely taught in your local knife skills class, or simply using a spoon), but there’s also another option. You could just buy one that doesn’t have a pit at all, as The Telegraph reports.

British retailer Marks & Spencer has started selling cocktail avocados, a skinny, almost zucchini-like type of avocado that doesn’t have a seed inside. Grown in Spain, they’re hard to find in stores (Marks & Spencer seems to be the only place in the UK to have them), and are only available during the month of December.

The avocados aren’t genetically modified, according to The Independent. They grow naturally from an unpollinated avocado blossom, and their growth is stunted by the lack of seed. Though you may not be able to find them in your local grocery, these “avocaditos” can grow wherever regular-sized Fuerte avocados grow, including Mexico and California, and some specialty producers already sell them in the U.S. Despite the elongated shape, they taste pretty much like any other avocado. But you don’t really need a knife to eat them, since the skin is edible, too.

If you insist on taking your life in your hand and pitting your own full-sized avocado, click here to let us guide you through the process. No one wants to go to the ER over a salad topping, no matter how delicious. Safety first!

[h/t The Telegraph]

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