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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Western Human Nutrition Research Center

Improving the quality of life through nutrition research

Recent accomplishments


Recent WHNRC research has revealed:


·         Rapid cholesterol- and lipid-lowering health benefits of specific foods, including strawberries and citrus limonoids, and diets based on the U.S. Dietary Guidelines.

·         Eating 3-4 servings of low fat dairy products in a weight loss diet does not affect the amount of weight loss, body composition or metabolism, but does improve vitamin D status and prevent bone loss.

·         Dairy protein and carbohydrates strongly reduce inflammation and body fatness in mice fed a high fat, obesity-promoting diet.

·         When obese women went on a weight-loss regimen, less weight was lost in those who displayed larger increases in the stress hormone cortisol.

·         Acylcarnitines, molecules that accumulate when tissue fat is not burned efficiently, activate pro-inflammatory pathways associated with type 2 diabetes.

·         One mechanism by which saturated fat increases risk of chronic inflammation and related diseases is through its activation of an immune cell receptor complex (the inflammasome).

·         Trans fat increased blood markers of cardiovascular risk, based on assessment of multiple lipids using metabolomics.

·         Omega-3 fatty acid supplements lowered pro-inflammatory metabolites.

·         African Americans with a common genetic variant of the 5-lipoxygenase gene, which appears to increase risk of cardiovascular disease, also have altered activity of this gene, suggesting a causal relationship.     

·         B-cryptoxanthin, a pro-vitamin A carotenoid in tangerines and other citrus fruit, is absorbed 7 times better than B-carotene.

·         Vitamin D deficiency is prevalent in pregnant women, breastfed infants and young children in Northern California.  

·         Based on the novel method of labeling vitamin B12 with 14C, eggs are a good source of bioavailable vitamin B12, but the percent of the vitamin absorbed from a meal falls markedly with higher intakes.

·         Zinc metabolism in tissues and pancreas of mice influences body weight regulation, blood sugar control and release of the sugar-regulating hormone insulin.

·         A protein containing selenium, SEPW1, is a key regulator of the cell cycle.


Ongoing research is described under the Scientist’s home pages.

Last Modified: 3/21/2012