learn more about this research in Agricultural Research magazine.
Heart-Healthy: Red Wine and
By Don Comis
September 11, 2000
WASHINGTON, Sept. 11, 2000--Beans could claim a place among red wine
and colorful fruits, berries and vegetables as nutritious cancer- and heart
disease-fighting foods, U.S. Department of
Agriculture research has shown.
The discovery that beans have some of the same 'anti-aging' agents or
antioxidants as those other foods is inspiring scientists to find ways to boost
the already high nutritional value of beans and could lead to more iron and
other vitamins and minerals, as well as more antioxidants, in beans, said
Floyd Horn, administrator of the Agricultural Research Service, the USDA
agency where the research was conducted. This should help farmers sell
George L. Hosfield, an ARS food quality geneticist and plant breeder on the
campus of Michigan State University in
East Lansing, Mich., discovered the antioxidant potential in certain flavonoids
found in the bean coat. Flavonoids are the colored pigments that may be the
protective factor in red wine and other foods.
Hosfield made the discovery while studying bean color, a quality factor for
which industry has exacting standards. He found eight flavonoids in the bean
coat, six of which were particularly strong antioxidants. He also found a link
between one of the flavonoids, a color gene, and resistance to bean mosaic
disease, which is a major threat to bean farmers. This is the first time such a
link has been made. Hosfield and his colleagues are searching for more links
and are trying to identify and learn the function of all the genes for canning
quality, disease resistance and nutrition.
Beans come in a mosaic of colors that can rival those of fruits and
vegetables. Their varietal names often reflect their attractive hues--like
Jaguar. Its one of the latest black beans to emerge from the Michigan
State University-USDA breeding team, which includes Hosfield and MSU breeder
Bean colors range from the plain white great Northern through the cranberry
beans cream with red streaks and flecks to the maroon-red adzuki--and all
the way to the totally black bean.
Hosfield has been upgrading bean quality, including color and canning
quality, for the past 24 years, giving support to private and public breeders
throughout the United States and Canada, Horn said. Now he and his
university colleagues have begun to break the genetic codes for flavonoids. His
support is crucial to the industrys success and results in giving
consumers attractive additions to their tasty and disease-fighting menus.
To learn more about this research, see Bringing You Better Beans
in the September issue of Agricultural Research magazine.
Hosfield's research is part of a nationwide program of horticultural
research within ARS. For more information on ARS research programs that affect
horticulture, see the list of "Crop Production, Product Value and
Safety" national programs at
Scientific contact: George L. Hosfield, ARS Sugarbeet and Bean
Research Unit, East Lansing, Mich., phone (517) 355-0110, fax (517) 337-6782,