Start Date: Jan 22, 2009
End Date: Jan 21, 2014
Epidemiological studies have repeatedly shown that diets high in fruits and vegetables are associated with decreased risk of chronic diseases that ultimately strike most Americans. However, the scientific foundation necessary to translate these epidemiological findings into dietary recommendations is weak. Research is needed to clarify specific health benefits of phytonutrients, to determine their bioavailability, to delineate rates of metabolism and elimination from the body, and to identify genetic differences among individuals that impact phytonutrient action in the body. This plan describes a five-year research project to investigate content, bioavailability, metabolism, and health benefits of selected phytonutrients. Studies will be conducted to determine the effect of postharvest processing on phytonutrient content. The initial focus of the postharvest studies will be leaf lettuce and tomatoes, and these studies will be expanded to include kale, spinach, swiss chard, and strawberries as funding is available. Several studies will be conducted to improve understanding of phytonutrient bioavailability and metabolism. The proposed focus of these studies is anthocyanins, building on previous work in our lab. Methods will be developed to isotopically label quercetin in lettuce and isoflavones in soy. These studies will expand our isotopic labeling program from carotenoids and anthocyanins to other phytonutrients. The influence of phytonutrients on biomarkers of chronic disease will be investigated, with an initial focus on garlic due to its promising role in cancer prevention. Genotyping will be included in clinical studies whenever sufficient scientific justification exists. This research will be conducted through plant growth and postharvest studies, human feeding trials, quantitative and qualitative chemistry, molecular biology, and kinetic mathematical modeling techniques. Information generated from this project can be used to develop recommendations for dietary intakes of phytonutrients that will improve health and reduce risk of chronic disease.