BERKELEY, Calif., May 25 (UPI) -- California researchers have identified a compound in cilantro, a key flavor component of salsa, that kills harmful Salmonella bacteria.
The work of Isao Kubo of the University of California in Berkeley is summarized in Tuesday's edition of the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, a peer-reviewed publication of the American Chemical Society, the world's largest scientific society.
Kubo identified the helpful compound as dodecenal, isolated from the fresh leaves of cilantro, or coriander.
It is one of the main ingredients found in salsa, along with tomatoes, onions and green chilies. The compound also is found in the seeds of cilantro. Both leaves and seeds contain about the same amount of dodecenal, but the leaves are used more abundantly in salsa.
In laboratory tests, dodecenal was twice as potent as the commonly used medicinal antibiotic gentamicin at killing Salmonella, a frequent and sometimes deadly cause of foodborne illness.
They found that it is the only naturally occurring antibacterial that is more effective than gentamicin against Salmonella.
"We were surprised that dodecenal was such a potent antibiotic," said Kubo. "The study suggests that people should eat more salsa with their food, especially fresh salsa."