Apples. Click the image for more information
New Plant Nutrient Database
Launched By Rosalie Marion Bliss
September 3, 2004
The Agricultural Research
Service has launched a database for phytonutrients known as
"proanthocyanidins," a subclass of flavonoids, in 206 selected foods.
Phytonutrients are beneficial compounds found in plant-based foods and are
widely studied by the scientific community because of purported health
Proanthocyanidins are abundant in certain fruits, nuts,
beverages (such as red wine and purple grape juice) and even some chocolates.
Those in cranberries, for example, may help protect against urinary tract
infections. Other health associations of these powerful antioxidants include a
reduced risk of cardiovascular diseases, cancer and blood clotting.
The unique food-composition resource was released this month on
the World Wide Web by scientists with ARS'
Beltsville Human Nutrition Research
Center working at the Nutrient Data Laboratory (NDL), Beltsville, Md., headed
by nutritionist Joanne Holden. Collaborators include scientists at the
ARS-funded Arkansas Children's Nutrition Center (ACNC), Little Rock, Ark.;
Mars Inc., of Hackettstown, N.J.; and
Ocean Spray Cranberries, Inc., of
ARS researchers, led by chemist Ronald Prior at ACNC, adapted an
earlier method for analyzing proanthocyanidins in foods. They used it to
analyze proanthocyanidins in nationally representative food samples procured by
the NDL. The new compilation is based on acceptable data extracted from reviews
of existing scientific literature, as well as data analyzed by researchers at
The new database complements several other databases, including
a flavonoids database developed earlier by the NDL, and will impact previous
estimates of the total flavonoids in foods. For example, the range of
proanthocyanidins in various small apples is between 70 and 140 milligrams
each, but the sum of other known subclasses of flavonoids in the same samples
is only about 5 to 13 mg.
The new database will be valuable in the continuing
investigation of the health benefits of consuming diets rich in plant foods. To
access the new database on the Internet, go to:
ARS is the chief scientific research agency of the
U.S. Department of Agriculture.