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University of Illinois - Chicago Study: Raisins Contain Compounds that May Inhibit Cavity-causing Bacteria

Tuesday, October 28, 2008 General News J E 4
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CHICAGO, Oct. 27 New research published in the journal,Phytochemistry Letters, reveals raisins may benefit oral health because thefruit possesses antimicrobial phytochemicals that suppress growth of some oralbacteria associated with dental cavities and gum disease. The study wasconducted at the College of Dentistry, University of Illinois - Chicago (UIC),by a research group led by Christine D. Wu, M.S., Ph.D., Professor andDirector of Cariology Research, Department of Pediatric Dentistry at UIC. Theresearch is part of ongoing UIC studies that examine a variety of naturalsources of compounds that possess antimicrobial activities against oralpathogens.

"The findings of this particular study build upon previous laboratoryresearch identifying compounds in raisins as effective at inhibitingcavity-causing organisms in the mouth," said Wu. "Our investigation indicatesthere are several naturally occurring, beneficial phytochemicals in raisinsthat work to inhibit bacteria associated with dental caries and gum disease."

The in vitro study, which was supported by the California Raisin MarketingBoard (CRMB), isolated eight known compounds from raisins and then tested eachfor antimicrobial activity against oral pathogens, Streptococcus mutans andPorphyromonas ginigvalis, the bacteria can cause cavities and gum disease,respectively. The research revealed half of the compounds exhibitedantimicrobial properties.

Oleanolic acid was one such compound showing positive response to reducingpathogenic activity. Prior, non-related studies reveal oleanolic acid also hasanti-inflammatory and anti-tumor properties; thereby, suggesting the benefitsof this natural compound found in raisins may go beyond oral health.

"Oral health and nutrition have always been linked -- indicating that ahealthy mouth supports a healthy body; in fact, some studies have shown anassociation between poor oral health and systemic diseases such as coronaryheart disease," said Julie Miller Jones, Ph.D., L.N., C.N.S., Professor ofNutrition in the Department of Family, Consumer and Nutritional Sciences atthe College of St. Catherine in St. Paul, Minnesota and national scientificadvisor to the CRMB. "Since oleanolic acid has proven beneficial, not only inthis study but others, as well, we are intrigued about future researchpossibilities associated with the benefits of oleanolic acid intake via raisinconsumption."

Rivero-Cruz, J.F. et al. Antimicrobial constituents of Thompson seedlessraisins (Vitis vinifera) against selected oral pathogens. PhytochemistryLetters (2008), doi: 10.1016/j.phytol.2008.07.007

SOURCE California Raisin Marketing Board
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