Cracking the connection between goes and diet could lead to future heart disease treatments

Understanding the complex interplay of heredity, diet and microbes may one day lead to diets that prevent and treat cardiovascular disease. According to a recent scientific statement published by the American Heart Association, cracking the connection between genes and diet could lead to future heart disease treatments.
“It’s not entirely what you eat, it’s in part the genes your parents gave you in terms of how you respond,” said endocrinologist Robert H. Eckel, M.D., a professor of medicine at the University of Colorado who was not involved in the statement.
The emerging field in this area, known as nutrigenomics, is extremely complex, according to lead author Jane Ferguson, Ph.D., assistant professor of medicine at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville, Tennessee.
“The idea is that different people may respond differently to different diets based on their genetic background,” she said. “Some people will metabolize their diets differently from others, based on their genetic profiles.”
[read more about the connection between diet, genes and heart disease.]


NRI presents inaugural short course for nutrition specialists

The UNC Nutrition Research Institute (NRI) held its first short course in Nutrigenetics, Nutrigenomics and Precision Nutrition, May 23 – 26. This workshop-style educational course featured 16 expert-led presentations on an array of topics including “Nutrition and Epigenetics” and “MicroRNA and Metabolic Profiling.” State-of-the-art practice is an important component of the short course. In hands-on sessions participants learned to analyze and interpret genetic data using PLINK, Harvard’s open-source, whole-genome association analysis software toolset.
This non-credit short course is designed for graduate students, health professionals and nutrition scientists from academia and industry. In its inaugural year the workshop was fully subscribed with 96 participants from 6 countries and 29 states. Among the presenters were professors of Nutrition, Psychology and Genetics at UNC-Chapel Hill and principal investigators at the UNC Nutrition Research Institute.
[read more about the NRI short course and it’s impact on the nutritional field.]

Summer Nourishment Tours

This summer, find out where scientific discovery takes place from by touring the UNC Nutrition Research Institute in Kannapolis. Points of interest include one of only a few whole-room calorimeters in the US, metabolic assessment lab, body composition lab, and a meet-and-greet with a scientist in a research laboratory. Each tour concludes with a 15-minute food demo jointly presented by Dole and the NCSU Plants for Human Health Institute. Learn about health-giving properties and preparation techniques of foods and nutrients studied on the North Carolina Research Campus. Attendees may sample the fare. Tours plus cooking demos will run approximately one hour in length.
Tours limited to 16 people. Sign up early! To register for a tour, click the date below that you would like to attend.
Tour Dates & Times
Tuesday, June 7: 1 PM
Tuesday, June 21: 1 PM
Wednesday, July 13: 11 AM
Wednesday, July 27: 11 AM
Wednesday, August 10: 11 AM
Wednesday, August 24: 11 AM

Spinach and Flaxseed Pesto

Designed by: Chef James O’Hara, Senior Instructor at Johnson & Wales University, Charlotte, NC.

  • 3 cups spinach, blanched and shocked
  • 1 cup basil, blanched and shocked
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 2 tbsp. flaxseed ground
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup parmesan, grated
  • Salt and pepper, to taste


  1. In a medium-sized pot, bring water to a boil.
  2. Plunge spinach and basil in boiling water for 10 seconds, remove and shock in ice water bath.
  3. Squeeze excess water from spinach and basil.
  4. Combine all ingredients into a blender or food processor. Blend until mixture is smooth.
  5. Add more oil if the mixture is too thick; season to taste.