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Mapping the DNA of wild strawberries and fine chocolate

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Separate teams of scientists have successfully decoded the genetic makeup of the wild strawberry and a certain type of cacao used to make fine chocolate. The efforts could yield new insights into the healthful benefits of these foods and development of more nutritional varieties, reports CNN:

Strawberries are rich in many kinds of compounds implicated in health benefits, such as antioxidants. Antioxidants may guard your body from free radicals, atoms or groups of atoms that can damage cells. Understanding the genes underlying the synthesis of these beneficial substances may lead to the creation of strawberries that produce higher amounts of those compounds.

The cocoa study, similarly, could lead to the invention of more nutritious chocolate, said Mark Guiltinan, professor of plant molecular biology at Pennsylvania State University, who collaborated with a large consortium of researchers from around the world. They found 96 genes in the flavonoid pathway; flavonoids are compounds thought to improve artery health and reduce inflammation. Special breeding could increase those flavonoids.

The wild strawberry and Theobroma cacao genome studies were published online today in Nature Genetics. Both studies were funded by a combination of academic, federal government and industry sources. Strawberry industry groups provided support for the fruit study and Hershey Corp. contributed to the research on cacao.

Previously: High-quality chocolate linked to lower risk of heart failure, Research shows eating berries may boost brain health and Research shows all berry types fight cancer equally

Photo by Lindsay T

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