A CILANTRO DOG WITH EVERYTHING, PLEASE Cilantro, a herb that's a key flavoring in salsa, can kill food poisoning bacteria, U.S. and Mexican researchers said last week. The team hopes the herb can be developed into a safe additive that could help prevent food-borne illness.

The study, published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, identifies a compound called dodecenal, found in the seeds and fresh leaves of cilantro (also known as coriander).

In lab dishes, dodecenal was twice as effective as the commonly used antibiotic drug gentamicin against Salmonella, a frequent and sometimes deadly cause of food-borne illness. There's a catch, of course:

"If you were eating a hot dog or hamburger, you would probably have to eat an equivalent weight of cilantro to have an optimal effect against food poisoning," said Isao Kubo, lead author and a chemist at the University of California, Berkeley.

FISH FLOPPING In findings that stir the murky waters of the risks and benefits of fish, researchers last week reported that women with a family history of asthma were far less likely to give birth to kids with asthma if they ate a lot of oily fish while pregnant than if they ate none.

The findings suggest that omega-3 fatty acids in oily fish somehow dampen the type of inflammation involved in asthma in children predisposed to the condition, said lead author Frank Gilliland of the University of Southern California, Los Angeles. Results were presented at a medical meeting in Florida.

But since many types of oily fish contain a large amount of mercury, which can interfere with fetal mental development, Gilliland said pregnant women with a history of asthma may choose to take fish oil supplements instead.

The problem: Research hasn't demonstrated that supplements have the same benefits as oil-rich fish, like salmon, tuna and swordfish.

Stop us if you've heard this one before: More research is needed.

SIGNS OF THE APOCALYPSE, CONT'D Krispy Kreme Doughnuts Inc., betting that the low-carb dieting phenomenon is here to stay, will introduce reduced-sugar doughnuts and other menu items later this year, the company announced.

SO NOTED "At first I was playing it for fun, but when you see results you're like, 'Yeah!' "

-- Matt Keene, 19, Charleston, S.C., about his use of the increasingly popular video game Dance Dance Revolution, in which players try to follow electronic prompts and perform fast, increasingly complex dance steps. Keene has dropped 150 pounds since he began playing the game and changing his diet.

-- From News Services and Staff Reports