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See the diversity and growth of faculty and student research pursuits on campus
at Research Day and honor the memory of Dr. John C. Krantz, Jr., through our annual distinguished lecture program.
Thursday, April 14, 2022
34th Annual John C. Krantz, Jr., Distinguished Lecture
Interprofessional Education Complex (IPEX), Room 237
“Moringa: A Smart Food to Improve Global Health and Equity”
presented by Carrie Waterman, PhD
Assistant Professional Researcher, Institute for Global Nutrition, University of California, Davis
UC Global Health Institute Pilot Center on Food Justice and Health Equity
Moringa oleifera (moringa) is an ideal medicinal plant and "smart food" in-speed with our mission to have better diets, healthier people, and a sustainable planet. Moringa is 27% protein by dry weight, contains high levels of nutrients, and has health-promoting properties. Specifically, moringa isothiocyanates (MICs) found in the leaves and seeds have the potential to provide chemically stable, low-cost, and sustainable diet-based therapeutic agents to prevent and treat malnutrition, chronic inflammation, and related medical conditions. Purified MICs, and MIC-rich extracts were evaluated in various cellular and animal models for inflammation, diabetes, and obesity. Our studies showed MICs can significantly decrease inflammatory cytokines expression in macrophages and reduce glucose production in liver cells. In mice, a 5% leaf extract supplemented in a very high-fat diet decreased weight gain by 20%, improved blood glucose metabolism, reduced the appearance of fatty liver, and decreased circulating levels of insulin, leptin, inflammatory cytokines, and cholesterol, compared to control mice. In a diabetic rat model, a moringa seed extract (~40% MICs) delayed the onset of diabetes and lowered circulating levels of glucose, insulin, and HbA1c. Our studies support the use of moringa for the prevention of chronic inflammation and metabolic syndrome. Ongoing community work in Kenya includes clinical, agricultural, and economic studies to bolster moringa’s local utilization. In California, we are developing best practices for sustainable cultivation and consumption of moringa and other “smart crops” to address social, environmental, and economic improvements to the livelihoods of those underserved and underrepresented.
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