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Researchers create the perfect nutrition-packed meal for long-term space travelers

After a tedious assessment, researchers have found the perfect meal for astronauts traveling in space for a long time.

Researchers create the perfect nutrition-packed meal for long-term space travelers
Representative Cover Image Source: (L) Pexels | Pixabay; (R) Pexels | Deeana Arts

Food is indeed the way to the hearts of many. Nothing brings more contentment than a good meal to feast upon. When one is out traveling and exploring, trying different cuisines becomes part of the routine. Wherever one is, they made arrangements to have good meals and compromise if mostly not an option. However, the big question is, what about space? What does one eat in space and what must one eat in space? There is now an answer. IFL Science has come up with a mind-boggling revelation on what type of food is recommended for astronauts. Those traveling in space are recommended a good and healthy vegetarian salad.

Representative Image Source: Pexels| Ella Olsson
Representative Image Source: Pexels | Ella Olsson

Life is tough with adjusting to space anyway. Astronauts have to make special preparations and build resilience while on their missions and unfortunately, their food is no exception to this. Their bodies have certain needs and require different amounts of nutrients and other substances to sustain themselves. Therefore, a health-packed salad is a top recommendation. Being in space with no gravity, the astronauts burn more calories and need more energy. Undoubtedly, they also require more calcium due to the lack of gravity in space. Researchers took the painstaking efforts to figure out which meal works best for space heroes.

Representative Image Source: Pexels| Piaxabay
Representative Image Source: Pexels| Piaxabay

After assessing 10 different meals, they were able to conclude. The study was conducted with 2 prime factors in mind. The first factor consisted of figuring out which combination of food gave maximum nutrients and energy to the astronauts. The second factor consisted of figuring out which crops or foods can be grown in space in a short span along with their sustainability. After a thorough test of all types of foods, the winning item was a veggie salad. The ingredients consisted of soybeans, poppy seeds, barley, kale, peanuts, sweet potato, and/or sunflower seeds. While the meal doesn’t provide all the nutrients as per the requirement, it checks more boxes than other food items.

The meal’s health check was done but what remained was a taste-check. Astronauts would compromise but not to an intolerable extent. Given that they’d have to consume the salad multiple times, it was suggested that it be tested. A focus group on Earth was given the meal to taste to understand whether it was edible or not. The volunteers rendered pretty good reviews. One said they wouldn't mind eating the meal for a week while another even asked for a second bowl. The volunteers also classified the meal as a “gourmet” salad which explains that the meal is pretty decent.

Representative Image Source: Pexels| Nadin Sh
Representative Image Source: Pexels | Nadin Sh

 While the meal seems almost good to go, there is still room for improvement and researchers are on it. However, the idea of figuring out a nutritious salad for astronauts for their benefit seems to be quite an accomplishment. Future research is likely to consider several other factors like age, gender and so on to design the meal to perfection. The researchers will also take into consideration health factors and are looking for possible healthy drinks that could fit for maximum nutrition for the astronauts.

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