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Science unlocks health benefits of fruits

01 Dec, 2006

Source: HortResearch & NutraIngredients.com

Researchers looking into the links between food and disease at a genetic level say they have seen positive results from apple extracts on genes associated with Crohn's disease.

“People react differently to foods and one of the ways they do so is genetic,” Karl Crawford of HortResearch, (now called Plant & Food Research), says.

HortResearch is part of a six-year collaboration called Nutrigenomics New Zealand, along with AgResearch, Auckland University and Crop & Food Research. (Note that in December 2008 HortResearch and Crop & Food Research merged to form Plant & Food Research).

Their initial focus is on gut health and Crohn’s disease, a chronic inflammatory bowel disorder.

“We are also looking back at the gene-based pathway that links gut inflammation response with the initial environmental insult. We have shown that fruit can positively influence this pathway, opening up new opportunities for foods which help manage inflammation,” says Dr Lesley Stevenson, also from HortResearch.

HortResearch has found certain apple extracts can inhibit production of an inflammation marker called TNF Alpha in cell systems, which indicates the extracts may have anti-inflammatory properties.

“Scientists world wide are beginning to recognise and accept that fruit, and particularly some fruit compounds, exhibit anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial and antiviral potential” Dr Stevenson points out.

However more work needs to be done on gene responses and they are still a long way from recommending that apples be consumed by people who suffer from inflammatory bowel disease, Mr Crawford says.

For more on nutrigenomics research, go to the Hub’s focus story.

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