A team of Agricultural Research Service scientists has reported a biotechnological approach that enables crop species to increase production of a chemical that may lower cholesterol and slow the aging process.
Genetically modified foods have been controversial, particularly in BC where debate is raging over federal approval of the Arctic Apple, but scientists in the US say their most recent modification could bring powerful long-term health benefits.
Scientists with the Agricutural Research Service have been looking at a phytochemical compound called pterostilbene that shows promise in preventing cancer, cutting cholesterol levels, and slowing the aging process in the brain. With all of those health benefits at stake, the latest research has been aimed at seeing if the levels of pterostilbene in fruit can be increased.
In one earlier study, the phytochemical compound pterostilbene was fed to rats in the form of blueberry skins, while they also ate a high cholesterol diet. Rats that ate the blueberry skins showed cholesterol levels 37 per cent lower than the control group.
Two other studies showed that a diet high in pterostilbene suppresses an enzyme that activates cancer-causing processes, and that it also reversed the aging process in rats.
Now, a team at the Natural Products Utilization Research Unit in Missouri have shown genes taken from the sorghum and peanut plants can cause psterostilbene to be produced in plants that don't normally produce it in any amount, including tobacco.
The research could be used in future to produce berries and grapes with greatly increased amounts of pterostilbene.