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When It Comes to Red Cabbage, More Is Better

Plant pigments called anthocyanins provide fruits and vegetables with beneficial blue, purple and red coloring. Now Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists are learning more about these compounds and their absorption into the human blood stream. Anthocyanins are a group of healthful compounds that fall within the flavonoid class of plant nutrients. Scientists have identified 36 anthocyanins in red cabbage, including eight that had never before been detected in the cabbage.

This study was conducted at the ARS Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Center in Maryland. Scientists there have engineered a method for identifying and measuring various nutrients in fruits and vegetables. They published their findings in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

Emerging evidence suggests that anthocyanins may provide cancer protection, improve brain function and promote heart health. An earlier study showed that some anthocyanins yield twice the antioxidant power of the same amount of vitamin C in test tubes, though the amount absorbed by the human body was not explored.

This findings could aid plant breeders in developing varieties with key anthocyanin structures and amounts and my help them produce healthier cabbage and other vegetables.

Question 1
What does anthocyanin do?
A. provides nutrients to plantB. provides nutrients to soil
C. provides colors in fruits and vegetablesD. adds flavors to fruits
Question 2
Which class of plant nutrients do Anthocyanins belong to?
A. neoflavonoidB. flavonoid
C. soflavonoidD. none of the above
Question 3
How many anthocyanins are identified in cabbage?
A. 25B. 46
C. 40D. 36
Question 4
Where is Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Center located?
A. MarylandB. Florida
C. ArizonaD. Kentucky
Question 5
Which of the following is NOT an expected benefit of the anthocyanins in humans?
A. cancer protectionB. improve brain function
C. improve bone strengthD. promote heart health
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Two Strawberries Found to be Rich in Ellagic Acid

Two strawberry varieties developed by ARS scientists are rich in ellagic acid, a natural organic compound that has been shown to inhibit certain types of cancer. The researchers found that Tribute and Delite strawberries had the highest ellagic acid levels among 36 varieties evaluated at the ARS Fruit Laboratory in Beltsville, MD.

The researchers found ellagic acid in the strawberries' seeds and fruit pulp, but the highest concentration was in the leaves. Now the researchers will use this information to breed strawberries with higher levels in the fruit pulp.

It's not yet known how much ellagic acid must be consumed to produce beneficial effects. But studies with the National Cancer Institute and Ohio State's Department of Preventive Medicine recommend a diet that includes strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, cranberries, walnuts and pecans--all sources of the compound.

Plants produce ellagic acid and glucose to form ellagitannins, water-soluble compounds that are easier for people to absorb in their diets. This means small amounts of ellagitannins may be more effective in the human diet than large doses of ellagic acid. Strawberries produce at least five ellagitannins. The chemical structures of these ellagitannins--and their effectiveness as anticarcinogens--have not yet been determined.

Question 6
What is Tribute and Delite?
A. Research magazinesB. Agriculture Research Institutes
C. A natural organic compoundD. Strawberry varieties
Question 7
According to the researchers, which part of the strawberry plants has highest concentration of ellagic acid?
A. leavesB. seeds
C. fruit pulpsD. roots
Question 8
Which of the following is NOT a source of ellagic acid?
A. raspberriesB. pecans
C. walnutsD. peanuts
Question 9
What is ellagitannins made of?
A. glucose and chlorophyllB. ellagic acid and glucose
C. lactose and ellagic acidD. water and ellagic acid
Question 10
Which of the following facts is CORRECT?
A. Large amounts of ellagitannins may be more effective in the human diet than small doses of ellagic acid.B. Plants produce ellagitannins and glucose to form ellagic acid.
C. Small amounts of ellagitannins may be more effective in the human diet than large doses of ellagic acid.D. Ellagitannins are water-insoluble compounds.
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