Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition 125th Points of Pride

Vitamin A Research Used to Benefit International Nutrition
James Olson, a distinguished professor of biochemistry, biophysics and molecular biology and food science and human nutrition at Iowa State, was a pioneer in vitamin A research. He developed a test used worldwide to identify vitamin A deficiency, which is a serious problem in developing countries and a leading cause of preventable blindness. He also developed a model for estimating the amount of absorbed vitamin A required by healthy adults.

One Percent Linolenic Acid Soybean Used for Lowfat Cooking Oil
Research on altered linolenic acid content of soybean oil began at Iowa State in the late 1960s. Soybeans, which supply nearly 80 percent of all oil used for cooking and baking, have high levels of linolenic acid, which makes the oil spoil sooner. To stave off spoilage, processors use hydrogenation, a process that extends shelf life but creates trans fats, which can raise levels of bad cholesterol. By the early 1990s, Earl Hammond, food science and human nutrition, and Walter Fehr, agronomy, had isolated the three soybean genes that control the 1 percent linolenic acid trait. By 1997, LoSatSoy, a low-saturated-fat soybean oil developed from the research at Iowa State, was being sold at Hy-Vee food stores in a seven-state area. The Iowa State Research Foundation holds the patent for the 1 percent linolenic acid soybean. LoSatSoy is a trademark of the foundation.

Researchers Identify Health Benefits of Soybeans
Iowa State researchers in food science and human nutrition not only study foods that provide nutrition, but also foods that can stave off disease. One component found mainly in soybeans is isoflavone. This element has a molecular structure similar to estrogen and can act to inhibit cancer, lower cholesterol and decrease bone loss in women. In partnership with the USDA, Patricia Murphy, food science and human nutrition, led development of a database of U.S. foods that contain isoflavones. The database contains useful information for researchers, dietitians, clinicians, health professionals and consumers. Murphy also developed a method to measure isoflavones in foods, has found a way to produce the compounds for research purposes and developed a soy protein processing system to maintain isoflavone content when designing food products.

Soy Research Offers Greener Materials for Hot Wax Art
In 2008, Tong Wang, associate professor of food science and human nutrition, was working with Barbara Walton, associate professor of art and design, to modify soy wax for use in encaustic art. The historic painting technique has been used since before 500 A.D. and involves adding colored pigments to heated wax and applying it to wood or canvas. Soy wax offers a safer, more affordable and environmentally friendly medium than the petroleum-based microcrystalline wax or costly beeswax traditionally used.

Simple Salmonella Test Could Speed Detection
Iowa State researchers have developed a technique for testing for the presence of salmonella that may give investigators better, faster answers. The approach can tell investigators if produce is contaminated with salmonella in about two hours, compared with current methods of detecting salmonella that can take up to seven days. The genetic marker approach, called fluorescent in-situ hybridization, was developed by Byron Brehm-Stecher, assistant professor in food science and human nutrition.