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Meet Dr. Edralin Lucas
Dr. Edralin Lucas is a researcher who has been working with the National Mango Board (NMB) on investigating the health benefits of fresh mangos on body composition and bone parameters. The NMB had the opportunity to interview her and learn more about her expertise and contribution to the mango industry.
Q: What is your name and employer?
A: Edralin A. Lucas and my employer is the Nutritional Sciences Department at Oklahoma State University (OSU).
Q: What is your expertise and background?
A: My research interest is functional food and the prevention of chronic conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, and osteoporosis. I have also an interest in clinical and analytical chemistry. I received my PhD in Analytical Chemistry at OSU. I have been working in the Nutrition Department since I received my PhD, so I would say that my interest is the integration of nutrition and chemistry.
Q: What trends in nutrition research have made the most impact on produce in general over the last 20 years?
A: In my opinion, understanding the role and how the bioactive compounds in fruits and vegetables prevent or delay the development of chronic conditions has made the most impact. We all know that fruits and vegetables are good for you and actual scientific studies that support this claim help the industry.
Q: What kind of research do you conduct for the NMB and how does it benefit the industry?
A: We have done a study that investigated the effects of mango on body composition and bone parameters in mice fed a high fat diet. To verify our animal findings, we are currently conducting two human studies. The first study is investigating the effects of mango on body composition in obese individuals. The second study is examining if mango can lower blood glucose in pre-diabetic individuals. As I mentioned earlier, scientific studies that support the role of mango in preventing or delaying the development of obesity and diabetes will help market mango in the U.S. and worldwide. People always have a notion that eating too much mango is not good for you if you have diabetes but our earlier animal study and findings by other investigators show that it is not as bad as people thought it is, compared to other fruits.
Q: What unique nutrition opportunities exist with the mango industry?
A: I believe that there are a lot of opportunities for the mango industry. All the research being conducted is very exciting for the industry. Product development, increasing shelf life and better marketing in the U.S. market and worldwide are unique opportunities.
Q: If you were in the mango business in the U.S., what nutrition research would you like to see conducted and why?
A: There are numerous varieties of mango available and for us, only the Tommy Atkins variety has been investigated. There are most likely variations in the bioactive component in these different varieties. Investigating which one has the most health benefits would be very helpful in preventing chronic conditions. At least where we are in Oklahoma, people are only aware of maybe two or three varieties and some of these varieties are not the best tasting mangos. Isolation, identification and understanding how these bioactive compounds in mango work are also an important line of research. This would really help us understand the role of mango in health.
Q: In 2017, how do you think mango nutrition messaging in the U.S. will be different?
A: Because of the many investigating research going on with NMB, I believe that mango nutrition messaging will be supported with even more scientific evidence.
Q: What is your favorite thing about mangos?
A: The taste!