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Database Adds to Body of Nutrient Information
By Rosalie Marion
March 12, 2003
The Agricultural Research Service today
launched a food composition database for a class of beneficial plant-chemical
compounds called flavonoids. The new database provides analytical values for a
variety of flavonoid compounds in about 224 foods. As more data become
available, additional food items will be added.
The flavonoids are the largest group of plant chemicals now widely studied
by the scientific community because of their purported health benefits. Dietary
flavonoids fall mainly into five subclasses and are found in certain teas,
wines, fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, roots--and even chocolate. In addition
to antioxidative effects, certain flavonoids are reported to have antimicrobial
and possibly anticarcinogenic and cardioprotective effects. Food flavonoids
include, for example, anthocyanidins in blueberries and cherries; catechins in
tea, red wine and apples; and quercetin in onions.
Dietary researchers eager to know the antioxidant-rich flavonoid content of
certain foods will find a friend in the new database. Knowing the amount of
dietary intakes of flavonoids is essential to researchers as they strive to
evaluate associations between flavonoid intakes and risk factors for various
age-related and degenerative diseases.
The new supplemental database was released by scientists from ARS'
Beltsville Human Nutrition Research
Center working at the Nutrient Data Laboratory (NDL), Beltsville, Md., in
collaboration with the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging
at Tufts University in Boston, Mass., and other industry groups. It complements
the NDL's core product, which is the major authoritative source of food
composition information in the United States.
Other supplemental databases include those for carotenoids and isoflavones.
Isoflavones are estrogenlike compounds in soy foods that may be responsible for
a lower risk of cancer. Carotenoids, such as beta and alpha carotene, lycopene
and lutein are another class of compounds in foods that may contribute to
reducing the incidence of certain types of cancer and other chronic diseases.
To access the new database on the World Wide Web, go to:
Then, under the red "Food Composition Products" label, click on
Read more on this in the
March issue of
Agricultural Research magazine.
ARS is the chief scientific research agency of the
U.S. Department of Agriculture.