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IFAS News

University of Florida

UF/IFAS survey: We like seafood, but we don’t eat enough

Topic(s): Aquaculture, Economics, Extension, Families and Consumers, Food Safety, IFAS, Nutrition, Research

Shrimp and cans of crab meat on display for sale at a seafood store.  Fishing, seafood industry, food.  UF/IFAS Photo: Tyler Jones.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Nearly half of Floridians eat more seafood than they did five to 10 years ago, but 40 percent still do not eat the federally recommended dietary intake of seafood, a new UF/IFAS and Florida Sea Grant-funded survey shows.

Floridians also know seafood is good for them, and they like their seafood caught or harvested in the Sunshine State. But many are not sure they’d know Florida seafood if they saw it, and they’re hesitant to pay the higher cost of local seafood.

“We know that eating Florida seafood is important to consumers,” said Florida Sea Grant Agent Bryan Fluech. Consumers want to support fishermen and the local economy, the survey says.

UF/IFAS experts say they can help educate consumers and the seafood industry to close these gaps.

“Specific educational programs could focus on developing a ‘train-the-trainer’ model for restaurant and retail staff,” said Fluech. That’s because most consumers purchase their seafood from restaurants and grocery stores, although they are not confident that they are getting accurate information from these sources. “Such a program would help these workers better address customer questions and needs, while promoting Florida seafood.”

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UF/IFAS study: Consumers prefer U.S.-grown organic broccoli

Topic(s): Agriculture, Economics, Environment, Families and Consumers, IFAS, Nutrition, Research

Twenty healthiest foods: artichokes, sweet potatoes, broccoli, bannanas, mangoes, salmon, onions, tomatoes, apricots, apples, avocados, blueberries, garlic, wheat, rice, nuts, red beans, oats, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds. UF/IFAS Photo: Thomas Wright. UF/IFAS calendar 2009

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — As a good source of protein, Vitamin A, calcium, iron and fiber, broccoli is so full of nutrients, some call it a “super food.”

It’s also popular at the supermarket, whether it’s grown in America or overseas. But Americans are willing to pay $1 more per pound for U.S. organic broccoli than that from China and Mexico and up to 32 cents more per pound than that grown in Canada.

UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researchers conducted a national online survey in 2010 in which they posed questions about organic broccoli to 348 participants. They wanted to know the impact of “Country of Origin Labeling” on the price people were willing to pay for organic broccoli.

Foods sold in grocery stores come in packages labeled “organic,” if it applies. The packages also tell the buyer the country where the food was grown — a concept called “Country of Origin Labeling.” But some consumers remain confused about whether the broccoli they’re buying meets U.S. government standards for organic products, said Zhifeng Gao, a UF associate professor of food and resource economics.

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UF CALS courses, majors evolve to meet changing demands

Topic(s): Agriculture, Aquaculture, CALS, Citrus, Crops, Economics, Environment, Families and Consumers, Food Safety, IFAS, Nutrition

Classroom, students, learning, auditorium.  UF/IFAS Photo by Tyler Jones.

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — As the University of Florida prepares to embark on the 2015-16 academic year, the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences offers several courses and majors that reflect how the institution adapts to industry and stakeholder needs.

The courses and majors aren’t brand new for this fall. They evolved during the past few years. But they reflect the growing menu of courses and majors offered to the more than 3,700 undergraduate students expected to enroll at UF CALS this fall.

Just to name a few of the relatively new majors and course offerings, UF CALS offers a major in marine sciences that leads to a bachelor’s degree, a new undergraduate certificate titled “Challenge 2050: Global Leadership and Change” from the Challenge 2050 Project and three new majors offered in the Food Science and Human Nutrition Department that were previously specializations under one major – Food Science and Human Nutrition.

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UF/IFAS study: Muscadine grape seed oil may help reduce obesity

Topic(s): Agriculture, Families and Consumers, IFAS, Nutrition, Research

Muscadine grapes 062915

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Muscadine grape seed oil supplies a form of Vitamin E, giving scientists another clue to reducing obesity, a new University of Florida study shows.

The oil may help mitigate the formation of new fat cells because it produces tocotrienol, an unsaturated form of Vitamin E, said Marty Marshall, a UF professor of food science and human nutrition.

“Thus, consuming foods made with muscadine grape seed oil could curtail weight gain by reducing obesity,” Marshall said.

Muscadine grape seed oil would be a valuable addition to the market of edible oils because it is a unique source of tocotrienol in addition to being a good source of mono- and polyunsaturated fatty acids, Marshall said. In addition, scientists anticipate that muscadine grape seed oils fortified with additional tocotrienol from underutilized muscadine varieties could be developed to help stem obesity.

Before this study, scientists attributed most tocotrienol benefits to red palm and rice bran oil. In fact, recent studies have shown that rice bran oil helps lower cholesterol. With the new findings, muscadine grape seed oil could be considered a superior source of tocotrienol, said Marshall, a faculty member at UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

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UF/IFAS scientist finds protein critical to “iron overload”

Topic(s): Families and Consumers, IFAS, Nutrition, Research

Mitchell Knutson

Mitchell Knutson

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — A University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researcher has identified the protein that the liver uses to load iron, thereby opening the door to potential strategies to treat “iron overload” disorders.

One form of these genetic disorders is hereditary hemochromatosis. Not everyone who inherits the gene will get the disease, but those who do so inherit the defective gene from both parents. Hereditary hemochromatosis is found most often in people of Northern European descent.

Over several years, those with the disorder will see excess iron get into the liver, heart, pancreas, joints and pituitary gland, leading to health problems such as cirrhosis of the liver, liver cancer, diabetes, heart disease and joint disease. People with the disease can get their blood drawn routinely to get rid of the excess iron.

“For 150 years, we did not know how iron got taken up by the liver — how it got in there,” said Mitchell Knutson, a UF associate professor in food science and human nutrition. “We knew there was a protein that took it up into to the liver. But nobody knew what that protein was. It’s such a fundamental question, and people just didn’t know the answer.”

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UF/IFAS researcher awarded almost $500,000 NIFA grant

Topic(s): IFAS, Nutrition, Research

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – A professor with the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences has been awarded a $499,348 grant to study the effects of blueberries and probiotics on the digestive tract.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) awarded Graciela Lorca, associate professor of microbiology and cell science at UF/IFAS, the grant to examine the interaction between microbes that are found in the intestine and phytophenols in blueberries.

In the study, some research subjects are given a high fat diet and others a modified diet. “A high fat diet is known to cause inflammation in the digestive tract. So, we are excited to see if adding phytophenols to the diet will reduce the inflammation,” Lorca said. “We want to see how the phytophenols affect the immune system and behavior, too.”

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Fishermen, communities need more than healthy fish stocks

Topic(s): Aquaculture, Conservation, Economics, Environment, Families and Consumers, Food Safety, IFAS, Nutrition, Research

Jim-Anderson 050615

James Anderson

The Alaska salmon fishery is touted as one of the best in the world. When measured with an ecological yardstick, it is – fish stocks are healthy and the fishery is certified by the Marine Stewardship Council as consistently meeting rigorous biological standards. Fish are individually counted as they swim upstream to ensure there are enough to breed.

But Alaska salmon falls behind some of the world’s fisheries in how it benefits local fishermen, processing workers and nearby rural communities, according to a new assessment that ranks the vitality of a fishery by looking at its economic and community benefits as well as its ecological health.

“We wanted to develop a new set of metrics to determine how well fisheries management systems work and to test what factors are most effective in improving them,” said James Anderson, professor of Food and Resource Economics and director of the new Institute for Sustainable Food Systems at the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. Anderson is a lead author of a paper published May 6 in the journal PLOS ONE, describing the new methodology.

 “These new Fishery Performance Indicators (FPIs) are designed to help us evaluate a fishery system’s performance toward achieving economic, community and ecological sustainability – the ‘triple bottom line,'” he said.

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UF/IFAS Extension cancer prevention course goes online

Topic(s): Extension, Families and Consumers, IFAS, Nutrition
Linda Bobroff.  Family, Youth and Community Sciences.

Linda Bobroff. Family, Youth and Community Sciences.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Get the latest and greatest information on how to control your cancer risks through a new online UF/IFAS Extension program.

Linda Bobroff, professor of nutrition and health in the Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences, developed the program, called “Take Control to Reduce Your Cancer Risk,” which went live in April.

“This program was developed to help participants make lifestyle changes that can improve their health and decrease cancer risk,” Bobroff said. “Cancer is one of the major causes of death in the U.S. and worldwide, and many types of cancer are preventable. Tobacco use, improper sun exposure and poor dietary habits contribute significantly to the burden of diabetes, and we address all of these in this program.”

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Research shows emotional intelligence critical for leaders

Topic(s): Agriculture, Extension, Families and Consumers, IFAS, Nutrition, Research

Chris Mott

Chris Mott

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Diet and exercise can help people lead more effectively, a new University of Florida research project shows.

Chris Mott, a UF doctoral student in agricultural leadership development, investigated how food and lifestyle impact emotional intelligence, an idea that calls for people to manage feelings so they can express them appropriately and effectively.

“We know that prior research separately links the food we eat and exercise (or the lack thereof) with the brain, triggering neurogenesis and affecting moods,” Mott said. “But this study is the first of its kind that ties diet, exercise and emotional intelligence together. Emotional intelligence is about knowing one’s true self and using awareness to best respond and relate to others ─ vital for a trusted and effective leader.”

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“The Meat We Eat” a popular course that improves attitudes

Topic(s): Extension, Families and Consumers, Food Safety, IFAS, Livestock, Nutrition

MEATWEEAT for web 042215

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Some people are changing their attitudes about the meat industry after taking the popular online course, “The Meat We Eat.”

The course, intended to give the consumer a more educated view of the meat industry, started up again April 20, and so far, about 5,000 people are registered. Chad Carr, a UF/IFAS animal sciences associate professor and meat Extension specialist, hopes that number rises above last year’s enrollment of 20,000 – students from around the world.

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