The model system C. elegans demonstrates the health benefits of legumes and the potential benefits of legume consumption

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Sandlin, Carla Michele
C. elegans; legumes; fat deposition; lifespan
thesis / dissertation description
Legumes are high in protein and are a good source of fiber and folate. They contain beneficial oligosaccharides, plant sterols and phenolics. The purpose of this study was to demonstrate the health benefits of legumes using the model system Caenorhabditis elegans (C. elegans). Nine legumes (black beans, cranberry beans, dark red beans, great northern beans, large lima beans, lentils, light red kidney beans, navy beans and white kidney beans) were tested in the C. elegans model system. The various legume samples were ground using a centrifugal mill to 0.75mm, suspended in water (1% w/v) solution and autoclaved. C. elegans were prepared using an age synchronized design. The laboratory standard food source Escherichia coli OP50 (E. coli OP50) was used as a control diet after being UV treated. Within the first week of life, the C. elegans received the first legume treatment of 20%, 33.3% and 50% legume material with the remaining amount being E. coli OP50. Pharyngeal pumping rate, a surrogate marker of aging, was counted manually throughout the study. Travel distance data was collected using imaging software. Nile red fluorescence, a marker of fat deposition, was measured using fluorescence microscopy. Pharyngeal pumping rate in the 50% legume diet group was significantly higher than in the control group. The following legumes had a significant increase in pumping rate throughout the study compared to the control: great northern beans, cranberry, lentil and dark red kidney beans. Fat deposition was decreased in C. elegans when fed black and navy bean diets. Travel distance was not significantly different between treatment and control groups. The results suggested the benefits of sustained lifespan and decreased fat deposition in C. elegans when fed a legume diet. The use of legumes in consumer products was evaluated in this thesis. A consumer study was conducted at a local middle school to determine the sensory attributes that are important to consumers. It was determined that strong flavors and seasonings were important to students and hamburgers are acceptable to students that are not 100% beef.