Center for Plant and Mushroom Foods for Health hosts seminar

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Bruce Ames, a prominent scientist in the fields of biochemistry, molecular biology and degenerative diseases, will present the first Healthy Lion Award Seminar, co-sponsored by Penn State's Center of Excellence for Plant and Mushroom Foods for Health and the Department of Food Science.

The seminar, which is open to the public, will take place from 4 to 5:30 p.m. on April 10, in the Berg Auditorium, 100 Life Sciences Building, on the University Park campus of Penn State.

Ames is senior scientist in the Nutrition and Metabolism Center at Children's Hospital Oakland Research Institute in Oakland, Calif. A professor emeritus of biochemistry and molecular biology at the University of California, Berkeley, he is widely known for his mutagenicity test, which is used by laboratories and major drug and chemical companies to identify carcinogenic chemicals before they are introduced in commerce.

During the seminar, titled "Vitamin and Mineral Inadequacy Accelerates Aging Associated Diseases," Ames will discuss his "triage theory," which helps explain the onset of degenerative diseases as a person ages.

This theory hypothesizes that human metabolism responds to moderate deficiency of an essential vitamin or mineral such that the scarce nutrient is preferentially retained by proteins necessary for short-term survival and reproduction. In contrast, proteins needed for long-term health -- which Ames calls "longevity proteins" because they defend against the diseases associated with aging -- lose the deficient vitamin or mineral and are disabled.

"Most of the world's people, including Americans, are moderately deficient in one or more of the roughly 30 essential vitamins and minerals," said Ames. "Since the damage from moderate deficiency is insidious, its importance for long-term health is underappreciated. Theory and evidence suggest that this metabolic trade-off accelerates aging-associated diseases, such as cancer, cognitive decline and cardiovascular disease."

Housed in the Department of Food Science in the College of Agricultural Sciences, the Center of Excellence for Plant and Mushroom Foods for Health is directed by Robert Beelman, professor emeritus of food science. The center focuses on the following areas:

-- Evaluation of the potential role of bioactive compounds from plants and mushrooms with potential to improve health.

-- Biofortification of whole foods from plants and mushrooms with select bioactive compounds with health benefits to consumers.

-- Evaluation of the complexity of the total food matrix as it relates to bioavailability and function of bioactives in food.

-- Evaluation of the role plant and mushroom foods play in an integrative-medicine approach to promoting health.

More information on the Healthy Lion Award Seminar and the Center of Excellence for Plant and Mushroom Foods for Health is available online at http://foodscience.psu.edu/research/mushroom-center online.

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Last Updated March 21, 2012