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Sugar found out in leafy greens helps to promote health

Bundled spinach sits in a cooler at a wholesale farmer's market in Washington September 15, 2006. U.S. supermarkets cleared shelves of bagged fresh spinach on Friday after the Food and Drug Administration warned the produce could be the source of a deadly E. coli outbreak across the nation. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst (UNITED STATES)

Washington: A new discovery finds out how bacteria feed on an unusual sugar molecule found in leafy green vegetables could hold the key to explaining how ‘good’ bacteria protect our gut and promote health.

The finding suggests that leafy greens are essential for feeding good gut bacteria, limiting the ability of bad bacteria to colonise the gut by shutting them out of the prime ‘real estate’.

Researchers from Melbourne and the UK identified a previously unknown enzyme used by bacteria, fungi and other organisms to feed on the unusual but abundant sugar sulfoquinovose, SQ for short, found in green vegetables.

Each year, leafy green vegetables, such as spinach, produce the sugar on an enormous scale globally, comparable to the world’s total annual iron ore production.

The discovery also provides crucial insights that may one day be exploited to develop an entirely new class of antibiotics.

The study has been published in Nature Chemical Biology (ANI)