Fending Off Disease with a Fork: Rutgers Scarlet Lettuce Exceeds Blueberries in Polyphenol Content

Rutgers Professor Ilya Raskin’s research focuses on plant-derived functional foods and medicines.

Rutgers Professor Ilya Raskin’s research focuses on plant-derived functional foods and medicines.

Modern science is catching up with ancient wisdom. The expression “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food” has been attributed to Hippocrates, father of medicine, around 431 B.C. Hippocrates’ adage is aptly illustrated by a glance down a supermarket produce aisle with its colorful display of deep red strawberries, fiery orange carrots, bright green broccoli and brilliant blueberries. The vibrant hues found in plant pigments that create these distinct colors have aroused the interest of the scientific community as vast amounts of research uncovers the beneficial effects these “phytonutrients” have on preventing disease and maintaining health.

Antioxidants, phytonutrients, and polyphenols have become familiar buzzwords to the health-oriented, and certain fruits and vegetables have achieved “superfood” status due to their high content of these beneficial compounds. In the arena of produce with high antioxidant abilities, blueberries have topped the list. Blueberries are considered the gold standard due to their high levels of polyphenols, which are a subgroup of phytochemicals. Anthocyanins are a further subgroup of polyphenols and provide the pigments that color deep red and purple foods such as blueberries, acai, blackcurrant and red wine. Research has shown these polyphenols to protect against diabetes, cardiovascular disease, memory loss, inflammation and cancer. [Read more...]

Rutgers professor develops ‘superfood’ lettuce

Blueberries are considered the gold standard of "superfoods" because of their high levels of polyphenols, beneficial compounds shown to protect against diabetes, cardiovascular disease, memory loss, inflammation and cancer. However, this seasonal fruit, often priced at a premium, is high in sugar content, requiring limited consumption by people on restrictive diets…A new superfood that’s low in sugar and available year-round and exceeds the high polyphenol content of blueberries hits the market this month. This high-polyphenol lettuce has been named Rutgers Scarlet Lettuce (RSL) – a tribute to Rutgers’ school mascot and color, the Rutgers Scarlet Knights, and is the brainchild of Rutgers Distinguished Professor in Plant Biology Ilya Raskin.

Read the entire article at MyCentralJersey.com »

Rutgers Professor’s ‘Super Lettuce’ To Hit Grocery Store Shelves Saturday

Thanks to a Rutgers professor, one of our healthiest foods has gotten healthier and the product is hitting grocery store shelves on Saturday. "[It's]The first time I think something really good happened to lettuce, because it’s the second most commonly consumed vegetable in the world and yet it’s not known for anything good or bad and now it’s gotten a functionality and some true benefits for health," plant biology professor Ilya Raskin told WCBS 880′s Levon Putney. Raskin broke down lettuce into individual cells, reproduced the cells high in antioxidants and there you go – super lettuce!

Read the entire article at NewYork.CBSLocal.com »

Some foods really don’t belong in the refrigerator, experts say

Distinguished scholar, microbiologist and Rutgers University professor Dr. Don Schaffner would like to impart some personal wisdom upon the general public in an effort to educate those who might benefit from his insight: He eats his peanut butter at room temperature only. "I personally just don’t like cold peanut butter, so I keep it out of the refrigerator," Schaffner said. And he’s not just talking Skippy, or Jif. He means natural peanut butter, without any preservatives. While other food safety experts, in an abundance of caution, might say he’s living dangerously, you know what, says the renowned food scientist and unabashed peanut butter lover? It ain’t gonna kill ya.

Read the entire article at NorthJersey.com »

The Hot Pepper Potential: Rutgers Ag Research Aims for Alternative Markets in New Jersey and the Region

Habaneros are among the exotic hot peppers with growing market potential.

Habaneros are among the exotic hot peppers with growing market potential.

It’s hard to be neutral about hot peppers. People often run, pardon the pun, hot or cold when it comes to these spicy meal additions. Those with “seasoned” taste buds may ply their dishes with daring degrees of spiciness, while others who fear the burn decline to indulge. But hot peppers offer more than a spicy bite to meals and present some other uses that can turn up the heat on its market potential. [Read more...]