Anti-cancer agents found in makgeolli

Posted on : 2014-09-04 11:58 KST Modified on : 2019-10-19 20:29 KST
In addition to being delicious, Korean rice beer found to contain squalene; but still, don’t drink too much of it
 Korean rice beer
Korean rice beer

By Kim Kyung-moo, agriculture correspondent

A research team at the Korea Food Research Institute (KFRI) announced on Sept. 2 that it had discovered the anticancer and antitumor compound squalene for the first time in makgeolli, a traditional Korean rice beer.

Squalene is a compound found mainly in deep sea sharks. It is sold around the world for its health properties, including its antioxidant effects and role in fighting cancer and tumor growth.

The research team, led by Ha Jae-ho of the KFRI’s Food Analysis Center, said in its report that the makgeolli sold in South Korea has a squalene content 50 to 200 times higher than those of normal beer or wine. The analysis found levels of 10 to 20 micrograms per kilogram in wine and 30 to 60 ㎍/㎏ in normal beer, but 1,260 to 4,560 ㎍/㎏ in makgeolli.

The team concluded that the squalene may be produced by Saccharmyces cerevisiae, a yeast used in the manufacturing process.

In 2011, another team led by Ha became the first in the world to analyze farnesol, another anticancer agent, in makgeolli.

“Although traditional makgeolli has been scientifically shown to be an excellent example of an alcoholic beverage, it is still alcohol, and it’s not good for your health if you drink too much of it,” Ha said.

“The squalene and farnesol are found mainly in the sediment at the bottom of the makgeolli, so it’s a good idea to shake it up before you drink,” he added.


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