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Improving Health Through Nutrition 

NIFA supports programs that improve quality, diversity, and access of nutritious foods in the U.S. food supply, resulting in improved quality of life.

Impacts

Close up photo of broccoli at a farmers market by Lance Cheung, courtesy USDA.
Close up photo of broccoli at a farmers market by Lance Cheung, courtesy USDA.

Broccoli May be Good for the Gut - Researchers at Pennsylvania State University found that eating broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables may combat gastrointestinal diseases, which afflict more than 60 million Americans each year. Researchers fed mice broccoli with their regular diet to discover how organic chemical compounds in the vegetable may help prevent diseases, such as various cancers and Crohn’s disease, caused by inflammation in the lining of the gut.

Enhancing Tasty Treats - A researcher from the University of Alabama has discovered a process that will enhance the flavor of food and, potentially, mask bad flavors and odors. The process involves supramolecular structures that wrap starch around flavor components. These structures improve the stability of flavors and how they are disbursed, ultimately controlling the release of flavor.

Illinois Study May have Long-Term Benefits for Women’s Health - University of Illinois researchers have discovered that long-term therapy with estrogen and bazedoxifene alters the microbial composition and activity in the gut, affecting how mice metabolize estrogen. The findings suggest that changing the chemistry in the gut could improve the efficacy and long-term safety of estrogen supplements for postmenopausal women and breast cancer patients.

New Methods to Process Food and Retain Health Benefits - University of California - Davis studied how contemporary agronomic and post-harvest processing techniques effect food quality and chemical safety. Results include new strategies and processing innovations for retaining and optimizing the beneficial compounds in finished food products as well as decreasing the formulation of toxic or undesirable compounds in processed foods.

Prenatal Choline Intake Improves Brains in Piglets…and Humans? - Choline intake during pregnancy can influence infant metabolism and brain development, according to researchers from the University of Illinois. The role of choline in neurodevelopment in pigs has relevance to humans because the two have the same nutrient requirements, similar metabolic function, and very similar brain development. Research shows that pigs from choline-deficient mothers were born with brains about 10 percent smaller than those whose mothers had choline-rich prenatal diets.

So, Rocky was Right to Drink Raw Eggs? - University of Illinois researchers have confirmed that people who consume 18 grams of protein from whole eggs or egg whites after resistance exercise see a significant improvement in how their muscles build protein. Further, the study showed that yolks contain protein, key nutrients, and other food components that are not present in egg whites.

Photo of aquaponics system courtesy of West Virginia State University.
Photo of aquaponics system courtesy of West Virginia State University.

Helping West Virginia’s Communities Succeed - West Virginia farmers are unable to raise crops on over one million acres of land due to improper soils and flood-prone locations. Scientists and extension agents at West Virginia State University established a training center that features an aquaponics system of three 1,200-gallon tanks filled with tilapia inside a high tunnel as an alternative agriculture source to provide fresh food to citizens.

Agroecology, Stewardship, and Community Engagement - Bismarck, North Dakota’s, United Tribes Technical College has increased community outreach by converting its children’s gardening project to a community garden program that includes orchard crops and Haskap berry plants. Specially designed raised beds enable mobility-impaired gardeners to work in the garden without having to bend. Traditional knowledge, Western science, and the rejuvenation of indigenous practices make this project helpful and successful. Annual produce harvest rates have improved by hundreds of pounds.

 

Farm bill priority areas
Food Safety, Nutrition, and Health
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