By Jo Pugh •
Published: 15 Sep 2023 • 9:11
Valencian Horchata is Tiger Nut Milk. Credit: Freepik
Researchers have unveiled that the Valencian drink, horchata, contains antiviral properties.
The findings from the Bioengineering and Biomaterials Laboratory, affiliated with the San Alberto Magno Translational Research Centre at the Catholic University of Valencia (UCV), have been featured in the prestigious International Journal of Molecular Sciences.
The study showed that tiger nut milk, a natural bio product, may serve as a potent ally in combating viral infections and safeguarding against a range of related illnesses.
Professor Ángel Serrano, who leads the Laboratory and spearheaded this project, said, “Our results affirm that the traditional Valencian sweet drink, crafted from tiger nut extract and sugar, known as horchata, possesses broad-spectrum antiviral properties.”
Working alongside fellow researchers Alberto Tuñón and Alba Cano, Serrano meticulously assessed the antiviral attributes of tiger nut milk at various concentrations against both enveloped and non-enveloped viruses.
Furthermore, it exhibited antiviral activity against the enveloped bacteriophage phi six, commonly used as a surrogate for COVID-19.
While tiger nut milk was found to be ineffective against non-enveloped viruses like the MS2 bacteriophage, the scientists at the Catholic University of Valencia made a notable discovery. The addition of sugar, a customary practice in horchata preparation, increased its antiviral properties.
This enhancement not only bolstered its effectiveness against enveloped viruses but also transformed it into an antiviral beverage against non-enveloped viruses.
Professor Serrano said, “The global COVID-19 pandemic has alerted scientists to the imperative of seeking new antimicrobial compounds for preventing infections caused by this class of viral pathogens. Natural compounds are gaining prominence in research due to their renewable, biodegradable, and non-toxic characteristics.”
During the preceding pandemic, they also engineered the first filters capable of inactivating SARS-CoV-2 and other enveloped viruses like influenza in under a minute, leading to the development of FFPCOVID MASK masks.
This groundbreaking technology represented a significant leap in COVID-19 protection, as conventional masks lack antimicrobial capabilities and solely hinder the virus from reaching the respiratory system, explained Professor Serrano.
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Jo Pugh is a journalist based in the Costa Blanca North. Originally from London, she has been involved in journalism and photography for 20 years. She has lived in Spain for 12 years, and is a dedicated and passionate writer.
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