University of Illinois (U of I) scientists have found compounds that boost liver detoxification enzymes nearly fivefold, and they've found them in a pretty unlikely place—the crushed seeds left after oil extraction from an oilseed crop used in jet fuel. "The bioactive compounds in Camelina sativa (image) seed, also known as “Gold of Pleasure,” are a mixture of phytochemicals that work together synergistically far better than they do alone. The seed meal is a promising nutritional supplement because its bioactive ingredients increase the liver's ability to clear foreign chemicals and oxidative products. And that gives it potential anti-cancer benefit," said Dr. Elizabeth Jeffery, a U of I professor of nutritional toxicology. Oilseed crops, including rapeseed, canola, and camelina, contain some of the same bioactive ingredients—namely, glucosinolates and flavonoids—found in broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables and in nearly the same quantities, she noted. Because the oil from oilseed crops makes an environmentally friendly biofuel, scientists have been hoping to find a green use for the protein-rich seed meal left after oil extraction. Animal feed was the obvious choice, but there were a couple of problems. Some rapeseed glucosinolates are toxic, and producers have balked at paying Canada for canola seed, the low-glucosinolate rapeseed that country had developed. Dr. Jeffery thought Camelina sativa was worth a look so she began to work with USDA scientist Dr. Mark Berhow. In the first study of camelina's bioactive properties, Dr. Berhow isolated four major components—three glucosinolates and the flavonoid quercetin—from its defatted seed meal. Back at Dr. Jeffery's U of I lab, researchers began to test these components on mouse liver cells both individually and together.
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