10th December, 2012
New research suggests that apples may be good for the millions of people worldwide suffering from inflammatory diseases.
Scientists at Plant & Food Research analysed the concentrations of 27 compounds thought to be beneficial to health in 109 different cultivars of apple - 94 from the Plant & Food Research germplasm collection and 15 grown in Luxembourg. From these, five cultivars were selected that represented the extremes of chemical profiles identified. Extracts of the flesh and skin from each of these cultivars were analysed in laboratory cell-based assays for the apples’ effect on key components of human inflammation.
The results showed that the apples with high levels of two families of compounds -the procyanidins and triterpenes - inhibited the activation of two molecules (NF-κB and TNFα) known to play a role in inflammation and are key in inflammatory diseases, such as Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD).
“Apple is one of the most highly consumed fruits worldwide,” says Dr William Laing, Science Group Leader Biological Chemistry and Bioactives at Plant & Food Research. “Understanding which compounds in apple influence pathways in disease, such as IBD, allows us to breed new varieties of apple with more of these compounds that can then be used as ingredients in foods specifically designed to control the disease symptoms.”
Scientists from Plant & Food Research worked in conjunction with a research team at the Centre de Recherche Public-Gabriel Lippmann in Luxembourg. The research was conducted as part of the Nutrigenomics New Zealand programme, a multidisciplinary research collaboration between Plant & Food Research, The University of Auckland and AgResearch, and funded by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment. The programme aims to determine how food and food composition affects health based on genetic information. Ultimately, the programme intends to develop gene-specific foods that prevent, control or cure disease. The initial target for the programme is Crohn’s disease and other inflammatory bowel disorders. Approximately 15,000 people are affected by these disorders in New Zealand.
The research is published in the latest edition of the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.