NC State Institute on Plants for Human Health Working to Make Our Food Work Better for Us

The Plants for Human Health Institute for NC State located in Kannapolis works on making food work better for our bodies. Dr. Mary Ann Lila, director of the Institute recently completed a study with a group of athletes on how to make blueberries and green tea, both known as ‘super foods’ work better. The results were interesting says Lila:

“We were looking at these polyphenotic substances in the green tea and the blueberries as a possible source of anti-inflammatory or anti-oxidant compounds. They are already well publicized to lower blood pressure and lower blood glucose. One of the puzzles for scientists has been that you can see in the evidence that there are health benefits, but when we try to measure them in the blood stream it looks like only .1% gets intot the blood stream. In this trial we were able to show that the polyphenotics from the blueberries were entering the blood stream in a manner that was not know previously, through the colonic passage rather than the small intestine.”

So, what does this mean for the average weekend warrior or those trying to loose a few pounds? Lila explains:

“Exercise allows some of these compounds in foods to be more available than if you were a coach potato. If you have exercise combined with eating special compounds that are naturally produced in fruits and vegetables, it allowed the colon to metabolize them and get into the blood stream. When these athletes ingested polyphenotics in their treatments, benefits were retained well after the exercise session was over. They even burned fat longer after being done with the exercise, even over night and the next morning.”

So, green tea and a handful of blueberries before you go to the gym!

In 2012 North Carolina farmers produced 37 million pounds of blueberries, and they’re available at farmers’ markets and other fresh market outlets through the summer months. Another bonus to blueberries, unlike many fruits and vegetables, they retain all their nutritional value after freezing.
Director of NC State’s Plants for Human Health Institute, Dr. Mary Ann Lila.


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