Apple-powered research

February 17, 2014 by Stephanie Rogers, Dalhousie University
Vasantha Rupasinghe in his lab. Credit: Danny Abriel

We all know that fruits and vegetables are part of a healthy diet. But Vasantha Rupasinghe, associate professor and Canada Research Chair in Fruit Bioactives & BioProducts at the Faculty of Agriculture, says their daily consumption can actually help prevent major diseases.

"Phytochemicals such as present in fruits have attracted a great deal of interest during the last two decades due to growing scientific evidence of their beneficial effects on human health," he explains.

One of the most exciting findings of Dr. Rupasinghe's work is that flavonoids present in apple peels can not only act as strong dietary antioxidants but also exert a wide range of pharmacological activities.

"We have developed a process to isolate a specific group of flavonoids from the peels of local apples which is currently waste material from apple pie manufacturing in Nova Scotia," he says, speaking to a research collaboration with George Robertson of Dal's Departments of Psychiatry and Pharmacology.

The study shows that flavonoids show remarkable neuroprotective qualities in mice when it comes to strokes and multiple sclerosis. "Our studies also show that apple flavonoids have the ability to reduce plasma and liver cholesterol levels and blood pressure in experimental animals fed with high fat diet," he adds.

Dr. Rupasinghe has several patent applications pending and is now in the process of identifying a nutraceutical company to commercialize this technology.

Supporting local industry

His research program is also assisting local producers and food processors to develop and diversify value-added food products for commercialization. This product development research includes functional foods and ingredients, nutraceuticals and natural health products.

For example, in partnering with the Nova Scotia Fruit Growers Association, Rupasinghe and his team have developed an apple-derived food antioxidant that can be used to stabilize omega-3 rich fish oil from oxidation. Working with Noggins Corner Farm in Annapolis Valley, Rupasinghe's team has developed a product prototype for non-fried, antioxidant impregnated apple chips. His lab worked with Apple Valley Foods, one of the largest pie manufacturers in North America, to develop a process to turn the company's waste into a fiber-and antioxidant-rich bakery ingredient. And currently, the lab is working with Mason and Liquid Beverage Inc, to commercialize a fermented fruit beverage product targeted for lowering blood cholesterol levels.

What's next for this disease fighter?

"We have recently signed a new research partnership with Honibe, a PEI-based natural health product company to help identify specific plant compounds that protect against group A Streptococci which causes sore throats."

Explore further: Natural defences against disease

Related Stories

Natural defences against disease

September 12, 2013
Scientific studies show that dietary intake of flavonoids and related phenolics can reduce the incidence of chronic diseases, including cardiovascular disease - Europe's leading cause of death - and certain types of cancer, ...

Red delicious or wolf apple? Brazilian savanna fruits high in antioxidants

August 21, 2013
Native Brazilian fruits grown in arid climates and poor soil have similar antioxidant activity to conventionally grown Red Delicious apples, according to research published August 21 in the open access journal PLOS ONE by ...

Health Check: The low-down on eating vs juicing fruit and veg

September 25, 2013
Eating more fruits and vegetables is the foundation stone of any healthy diet, with the national dietary guidelines recommending adults eat two pieces of fruit and five to six serves of veggies and legumes a day.

Fruit and veg flavanoids give cardioprotective effects

January 9, 2013
A study published in the journal of Biochemical Pharmacology suggests major flavonoid quercetin is beneficial in reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD).

Recommended for you

Air pollution may shorten telomeres in newborns

January 24, 2018
A study conducted before and after the 2004 closure of a coal-burning power plant in Tongliang, China, found children born before the closure had shorter telomeres than those conceived and born after the plant stopped polluting ...

Number of older people with four or more diseases will double by 2035, say researchers

January 23, 2018
A study published today in Age and Ageing, the scientific journal of the British Geriatrics Society, reports that the number of older people diagnosed with four or more diseases will double between 2015 and 2035. A third ...

Placental accumulation of flame retardant chemical alters serotonin production in rats

January 22, 2018
A North Carolina State University-led research team has shown a connection between exposure to a widely used flame retardant chemical mixture and disruption of normal placental function in rats, leading to altered production ...

Marijuana use does not lower chances of getting pregnant

January 22, 2018
Marijuana use—by either men or women—does not appear to lower a couple's chances of getting pregnant, according to a new study led by Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) researchers.

Women run faster after taking newly developed supplement, study finds

January 19, 2018
A new study found that women who took a specially prepared blend of minerals and nutrients for a month saw their 3-mile run times drop by almost a minute.

Americans are getting more sleep

January 19, 2018
Although more than one in three Americans still don't get enough sleep, a new analysis shows first signs of success in the fight for more shut eye. According to data from 181,335 respondents aged 15 and older who participated ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.