Spilling the DNA Beans on Soybeans

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Chances are, you have come across a soybean today. Soybeans are the world’s second biggest crop (corn is the first) and they are in lots of products, from paper to peanut butter. Globally, soybeans are one of the main sources of protein and oil. This versatile legume may also play a role in reducing cancer risk.starr-090611-0622

This week scientists published the sequence of the soybean genome, which could potentially help all these areas of research.

You can read the abstract of the paper in the journal Nature here.

The soybean is the first legume sequenced. Scientists now plan to identify which genes are responsible for particular plant characteristics, and then target specific genes to produce desired characteristics, such as more antioxidants.

Here’s a few soybean genome highlights:
– It contains about 46,000 genes (in comparison, humans have about 25,000; the earthworm about 19,000, and corn about 32,000).
– It contains a huge number of multiple copies of the same gene: about 75 percent of its genome.
– The soybean duplicated its DNA at least twice: approximately 59 million years ago and then again 13 million years ago.

Soybeans are packed with protein, vitamins and other cancer-fighting compounds. If knowing its genome wants to make you try this legume in your diet, here’s one recipe idea: Edamame and Orange Salad (soybeans are also called edamame).

You can also read more about soybeans’ possible role in cancer prevention here.

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    Fish “en”…What?

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    Fotolia_5073106_XS“En papillote” (pap-ee-YOTE) – the cooking trick in today’s Health-e-Recipe – refers to food baked inside a parchment paper wrapping.

    It actually doesn’t catch on fire, as one might think, or become soggy. Instead, as the food cooks, the parchment paper puffs up and gently steams the food inside, allowing the fish to stay moist and absorb the lemon juice and piquant olive tapenade.

    Why not use foil? Lore has it that acidic liquids, like wine, tomato or citrus, taste funny when cooked in foil. (And using wax paper can really get messy.)

    Papillote is designed for cooking and can be used to line baking sheets, as well. Now you know an easy way to impress people with your French cooking savvy (or savoir-faire, as they say in the Old Country). Complete this heart-healthy, cancer preventive dish with brown or wild rice and a salad of dark, leafy greens.

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      Pack in the Omega 3’s

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      Sardines are one of the hot food trends for 2010 according to J. Walter Thompson, a global advertising agency. Affordability, healthy fats and a good environmental score make these little fish attractive for 2010.

      grilled sardines
      Sardines are high in omega 3 fatty acids, a polyunsaturated fat that seems to offer protection against both heart disease and cancer.  Since most Americans don’t get enough omega 3’s, these relatively inexpensive and easy to find canned wonders could be a nutrition gold mine.

      In addition to the healthy fats and protein, sardines are a good source of calcium, iron, zinc and selenium.  Calories are just slightly higher than salmon.

      Read more about sardines from AICR Nutrition Consultant Karen Collins, MS, RD, CDN.

      Do you like sardines?  Let us know if you have a favorite sardine recipe.

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