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A Multidisciplinary Approach to Reduce Risk of Cardiovascular Disease, Cancer and Food Borne Illnesses in the Black Belt Counties of Alabama


To determine the effectiveness of the consumption and safety of indigenous foods and their bioactive components in rural Black Belt African-American communities of Alabama in preventing chronic diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, cancer and food borne illnesses.

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NON-TECHNICAL SUMMARY: Cardiovascular and other chronic diseases are major problems in Alabama Black Belt counties. This project examines the effectiveness of biotic components in indigenous African American foods in the prevention of cardiovascular and other chronic diseases.<P>APPROACH: To determine phytochemical profiles in selected fruits and vegetables in the Black Belt and their effects on cardiovascular disease prevention, studies will be conducted to identify the polyphenolic components of fruits and vegetables in Alabama: black/blue berry, muscadine grape, collard green, mustard green, sweet potato green, rutabaga leaves, kale and turnip greens. Nutrient loss in fruits and vegetables during cooking: steam/water/microwave blanching, pasteurization of juices and refrigerated storage will be evaluated. The antioxidation capacity of the extract from the fruits or vegetables using the DPPH or ORAC method will be used. Biological efficacy of these polyphenolics using hamsters as an animal model for cardiovascular disease and cancer will be evaluated. Studies will also be conducted to evaluate the effects of polyphenolics on COX II concentration in hypertensive rats on COX II levels in plasma, heart and liver tissue. Local communities in the Black Belt will be used to implement and evaluate workshops about the health benefits of fruits and vegetables high in polyphenolics and antioxidants. To determine the effects of lycopene and antoxidants in indigenous African American foods in cancer prevention, studies will be conducted to determine the isomeric forms of lycopene involved in inhibition of tumor cell invasion. Different combinations of lycopene isomers will be created and each isomeric form will be characterized and the most effective combination in cancer inhibition will be determined. Studies will also be conducted to delineate the mechanism of lycopene inhibition of MMP-2 by examining the effect of lycopene on the activating proteins for MMP-2. For microbial safety evaluations the fruits and vegetables (peaches, watermelon, greens, and green beans, etc) will be purchased from farmers markets and local groceries in the Alabama Black Belt counties. Organic and non-organic produce will also be included. Studies will be conducted to determine pathogenic products in fresh fruits and vegetables; establish tolerance limits of pathogenic products in the Black Belt communities served; develop small-scale ultrasound food processors as alternatives to traditional approaches to food safety for ultimate nutrient retention; and to determine the efficacy of ultrasound on improving food safety in indigenous fruits and vegetables consumed in the Black Belt.

Oh, J. Hyun
Tuskegee University
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