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March 2007

Flavanoids are Hot

Flavonoids were featured at the Annual Symposium of the Purdue UAB Botanicals Research Center at Purdue February 22-24th. Flavonoids from chocolate, called catechins, were extolled for Cocoa Plant their health benefits. But all flavonoids are not equal according to Carl Keen, Distinguished Professor from the University of California, Davis.  Dr. Keen explained that it is the flavanol in cocoa that contributes to low blood pressure in a Kuna Indiana tribe in Panama.   This year’s Symposium at Purdue featured topics that ranged from botanical dietary supplement research efforts to the effects of blueberry extracts on Parkinson's disease to science relating to flavonoids and vascular health, botanicals and eye lens proteins, neuroprotective effect of blueberry extract in Parkinson’s disease, isoflavones in vascular disease and the diversity of species among Echinacea and Hypericum.  The annual session included a poster session featuring research from both the Botanicals Center and the Interdepartmental Nutrition Graduate Program, with monetary awards given to the students whose posters are deemed best in each category. This year the winners included Vanessa Kane from the INP session and Shannon Eluik, UAB and Botanicals Poster SessionAndrew Neilson, Purdue Food Science for the Botanical session.  Attendees were not only treated to science on polyphenols but also a culinary delight featuring chocolate was provided-designed by Kim Galeaz, Galeaz Communications and sponsored by Delavau LLC. Luncheon speaker Deb Miller, The Hershey Company, presented "Chocolate and Cocoa: From Ancient Remedy to Modern Science.  For more information about the Botanicals Research Center log onto their website at www.cfs.purdue.edu/fn/bot or contact Dr. Connie Weaver at weavercm@purdue.edu.

Got Antioxidants?

Students in introductory chemistry are looking for the answer.  Dr. Jay Burgess wrote a module for the NSF-funded Center for Authentic Science Practice in Education (CASPiE) entitled “Phytochemical antioxidants with potential health benefits in foods.”   CASPiE is a program run through the Chemistry Department at Purdue University by Dr. Gabriela Weaver, and the project involves several other universities and colleges with the purpose of introducing students to basic research early during their college experience.  Each module is self-contained and written by a faculty member carrying out active research. The efforts of the students are meant to contribute to the research program of each author.  Dr. Burgess’ module teaches the students in second semester chemistry laboratories how to measure the amounts of the antioxidants in food which are claimed to provide health-promoting properties.  The module is also written to complement and reinforce the basic chemistry concepts discussed in the lecture.  Foods like chocolate, green tea, berries, as well as a variety of different fruits and vegetables are often Berries marketed based on their abundance of antioxidant activity.  Once the students have learned how to measure this characteristic they learn about the scientific method and design and carry out their own research project.  The results of their work are sent to Dr. Burgess to enhance his research.  This semester the module is being used in courses taught at Ball State University, College of DuPage, Harold Washington Community College, SUNY Buffalo, Vincennes University, and Purdue.  The Purdue course involves over 350 students.  More information about the program can be found at www.caspie.org or contact Jay Burgess at burgesjr@purdue.edu.

Youth are Exploring Nutrition with Professor Popcorn

Professor Popcorn has “popped” back into classrooms with his new and improved curriculum. He tapped into MyPyramid and the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for nutrition essentials. A new and revised version is ready for kids to start exploring.

Exploring MyPyramid with Professor Popcorn encourages kids to experience food, enjoy food, explore food and get energized by food. The goal of the curriculum helps young people to develop into healthy adults by gaining an interest in eating healthy foods, using safe food-handling techniques and making physical activity part of their lifestyle. It is designed as a “grab and go” teaching tool for grades 1-6. Professor Popcorn

After a two year renovation, Professor Popcorn now offers a more experiential age-appropriate curriculum corresponding to MyPyramid. It focuses more on fruit and vegetable intake as well as including updated recipes and visuals.

A website with streaming video has been utilized for training with the 2006 version of the curriculum. In some counties, teachers have been trained by Purdue Cooperative Extension staff and together teach the program. Credit has been obtained from the Indiana Professional Standards Board for teachers.

Since the 2006 revision, Professor Popcorn has had an enormous impact on youth. Approximately, 11,810 children in 363 groups were taught either the interim or pilot program. These were all substantial increases from 2005. To date, Extension staff have taught and provided evaluation data for the Professor Popcorn program in 33 Indiana counties. More information regarding Exploring Nutrition with Professor Popcorn can be obtained by accessing the website at www.ces.purdue.edu/cfs/topics/EFNEP/professorpopcorn/index, or contact Donna Vandergraff, MS, RD at vandergraff@purdue.edu.

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Foods & Nutrition Department
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700 West State Street
West Lafayette, IN

Phone: (765) 494-8228
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