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IFAS News

University of Florida

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

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

Muscadine grapes 062915

See caption below

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.”

(more …)

Fishermen, communities need more than healthy fish stocks

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

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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.

(more …)

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.”

(more …)

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

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

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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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$2 million UF/IFAS study to focus on antibiotic resistance; $500,000 study on taste retention

Topic(s): Agriculture, Announcements, Crops, Economics, Environment, Food Safety, IFAS, Nutrition, Research

Kwang Cheol (K.C.) Jeong, Ph.D. UF/IFAS Photo. 2011.Kevin Folta.  UF/IFAS File Photo.

Jeong, left, and Folta, right

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — A University of Florida scientist will try to figure out how antibiotic-resistant microorganisms get into cattle. Another will study how to get tomatoes and strawberries to retain their flavors and last longer.

The two vastly different questions will be the focus of separate studies led by UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences faculty members. The National Institute of Food and Agriculture, part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, has awarded KC Jeong $2.19 million to study the cattle antibiotic question. NIFA also has awarded Kevin Folta and Thomas Colquhoun $500,000 to investigate the strawberry/tomato issue.

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UF/IFAS study: Mushrooms boost immunity

Topic(s): IFAS, Nutrition, Research

Susan Percival

UF/IFAS Food Science and Human Nutrition Professor Sue Percival

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Could a mushroom a day help keep the doctor away?

A new University of Florida study shows increased immunity in people who ate a cooked shiitake mushroom every day for four weeks.

Of the thousands of mushroom species globally, about 20 are used for culinary purposes. Shiitake mushrooms are native to Asia and are cultivated for their culinary and medicinal value.

In a 2011 study led by UF Food Science and Human Nutrition Professor Sue Percival, 52 healthy adults, age 21 to 41, came to the Gainesville campus, where researchers gave them a four-week supply of dry shiitake mushrooms. Participants took the mushrooms home, cleaned and cooked them. Then they ate one, 4-ounce serving of mushrooms each day during the experiment.

Through blood tests before and after the experiment, researchers saw better-functioning gamma delta T-cells and reductions in inflammatory proteins.

(more …)

UF/IFAS, Immokalee officials are working together to get residents moving and eating healthy

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

Children take part in Ciclovia Immokalee!

IMMOKOLEE, Fla. — Adelaida Rodriguez, 34, walked quickly along North 1st Street in Immokalee recently, keeping up with her three sons, ages 8, 6 and 4, as they rode their bikes to Ciclovia Immokalee!, what is becoming a monthly healthy living festival in the small, Southwest Florida town of about 24,000 people.

“I like to go just because it’s a good thing for the family to do,” Rodriguez said.  “It’s a good day to do family activities and be outdoors.”

One of the stops she and her sons made was at a booth measuring body mass index to make sure they were all within healthy weight ranges, which they were.

In a town known for poverty and migrant workers, the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences is working with local community agencies on Ciclovia Immokalee! to change area families’ health habits, including exercising more and making better choices in the foods they eat. (more …)

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