For details, contact: Alice H. Lichtenstein, (617) 556-3127, Cardiovascular Nutrition Laboratory, Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University, Boston, Mass.
Blueberries may help fight atherosclerosis, also known as hardening of the arteries, according to results of a preliminary Agricultural Research Service (ARS)-funded study with laboratory mice. The research provides the first direct evidence that blueberries can help prevent harmful plaques or lesions, symptomatic of atherosclerosis, from increasing in size in arteries. Lesion size, measured at two sites in the aorta (the artery leading from the heart), was 39 and 58 percent less than that of lesions in mice whose diet did not contain blueberry powder.
Ongoing Agricultural Research Service (ARS) studies are helping uncover new details about how fish-oil components help protect us from chronic diseases. An 8-week test with 50 laboratory mice indicated that a specific omega-3 fatty acid from fish oil, called DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), protected the animals against two harmful side effects of a different fatty acid, CLA, found in some dietary supplements as trans-10, cis-12 CLA: CLA-induced insulin resistance and CLA-induced non-alcoholic fatty-liver disease. In contrast, another omega-3 fatty acid from fish oil, EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid), offered only partial protection against CLA-induced non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, and provided no protection against insulin resistance. In a literature review, the scientists indicate that findings reported in the past decade have been inconsistent in regard to the effects of EPA and DHA on insulin resistance in human volunteers.
Exposing sliced carrots to UV-B, one of the three kinds of ultraviolet light in sunshine, can boost the antioxidant activity of the colorful veggie, based on results of preliminary studies by Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists. The carrot study results suggest that a moderate, 14-second dose of UV-B can boost fresh, sliced carrots' antioxidant capacity by about 3-fold. The dose is energy-efficient and does not significantly heat or dry the carrots.
Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists are helping ensure that the smoked salmon that's always a hit at festive gatherings also is always safe to eat, including the development of a first-of-its-kind mathematical model that food processors and others can use to select the optimal combination of temperature and concentrations of salt and smoke compounds to reduce or eliminate microbial contamination of the product. The researchers determined that every 9 degree Fahrenheit increase in temperature resulted in a 10-fold increase in rates of inactivation of Listeria. They used this and other data from the study to create the mathematical model.
A one-month study led by Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists in California has provided new evidence to suggest that, ounce for ounce, tangerine heirloom tomatoes might be a better source of a powerful antioxidant called lycopene than are familiar red tomatoes. The difference lies in the forms of lycopene that the two tomato types provide. The trans-lycopene form, or isomer, makes up most of the lycopene in common red tomatoes. In contrast, most of the lycopene in tangerine tomatoes is tetra-cis-lycopene.
Hawaiian growers can now export more fruits and vegetables to the U.S. mainland, thanks to studies by Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists. Strict quarantine restrictions and phytosanitary measures have been in place to ensure agricultural pests like fruit flies don't invade the mainland along with imports from Hawaii like papaya, rambutan, longan, dragon fruit and purple-fleshed sweet potato. The ARS scientists found that a generic dose of 150 grays (Gy) of radiation is suitable for controlling the three species of Tephritid fruit flies found in Hawaii. They also demonstrated that a generic dose of 400 Gy is broadly effective against many other pests. These results contributed to approval by USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) of using generic doses of radiation for treatment of Hawaiian produce. The ARS scientists also examined product quality after irradiation. Those tests helped establish the maximum dose levels the fruit and vegetables could withstand while ensuring consumers receive a high-quality product.
The first cultivar of 'ôhelo berry, a popular native Hawaiian fruit, has been released by Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists and their university and industry cooperators. 'Ôhelo (Vaccinium reticulatum Smith) is a small, native Hawaiian shrub in the cranberry family, commonly found at high elevations on the islands of Maui and Hawaii. As people scour the landscape to harvest this wild, delectable berry for use in jam, jelly and pie filling, they unfortunately disrupt the fragile habitats where this plant grows. The ARS scientists are now evaluating 'ôhelo for small farm production and ornamental use.
For details, contact: Francis Tso Ping Zee, (808) 959-5833, ARS Tropical Plant Genetic Resources and Disease Research Unit, Hilo, Hawaii