Fruits in the News

With the new gardening season beginning, it’s time for a look at the world of fruits. If you need another health-related reason to eat more fruits, you’ll be interested in results from a Tulane University study.

This research found that the fiber in vegetables and fruits can help lower blood pressure. For this result, you’ll need to consume at least seven grams of fiber from fruits and vegetables per day.

A USDA study is touting blueberries as a means of lowering cholesterol. Their researchers found that pterostilbene, a particular substance found in the berries, lowers cholesterol in cells. In addition, they say it may lower triglycerides as well. Though this work did not specify how many blueberries one has to consume to get the desired effect, this topic will be addressed in future studies.

Could fragrance minimize the chances of road rage? A recent study found that the use of car air fresheners had beneficial effects commuters. The researchers singled out two scents in particular-strawberry and pine. In addition to keeping drivers calmer, these also led to improvement in overall driving performance.

Cornell University researchers came up with a way to make plastics from citrus. They started with limonene oxide extracted from the fruits and added carbon dioxide.

Plant breeders at the Agricultural Research Service (ARS), which is part of USDA, are working to create new low sugar watermelons that can still provide a healthy dose of lycopene.

They hope to reduce the overall sugar level from about 14% down to around 5%, which would make it more acceptable to diabetics and others on low sugar diets. They expect seeds of the new varieties will be available in a few years.

On the pest and disease front, there is good news and bad news. State agricultural officials in Pennsylvania lifted the plum pox virus quarantine for certain areas of York County. However, some areas of Adams County, Cumberland County, and York County still remain under the quarantine. Under the terms of the quarantine, it’s forbidden to plant stone fruits in the affected locales until they’re declared free of the virus.

A new plant virus was discovered in North America. The strawberry latent ringspot virus, which has been a problem for several decades in Europe, has made its way here. Experts aren’t sure how big an effect this could eventually have on strawberry growers.

ARS has been working on a new, natural way of dealing with fire blight. The researchers discovered a naturally occurring bacterium on fruit blossoms that can out-compete the fire blight. ARS has patented the substance, which they called E325.

When sprayed on the fruit blossoms, this bacterium limits the damage the fire blight can do. ARS officials are now working with a company to learn how this substance can be produced commercially. The company is seeking permission from EPA to market the natural substance for use on pears and apples. This commercial product will be called Bloomtime Biological FD.

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