Food crops show promise to prevent chronic diseases

By Peter Kent

man looking at cilantro plantsImagine eating your way to better health. Scientists at Clemson, the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) are working to make that a reality.

“Our goal is to produce foods that help prevent the onset of chronic diseases such as diabetes and colon cancer,” said David Gangemi, director of Clemson’s Institute for Nutraceutical Research.

Chronic inflammation has been linked to many diseases, including cancer, diabetes, heart disease, asthma, and Alzheimer’s. The scientists are collaborating to identify and enhance the anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of food crops grown in South Carolina.

Nutrition scientists are studying the active bio-compounds in collards, kale, cilantro, coriander, muscadine and other crops. Clemson and USDA plant scientists at the Coastal Research and Education Center in Charleston are seeking to enhance the beneficial compounds and to process the crops into usable products. MUSC scientists are conducting clinical trials to test effectiveness.

In addition to improving health, their research may provide new cash crops for the state’s farmers.

For information: David Gangemi, 864-656-3015,