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Eat your Beets!!!!


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(NECN: Amy Sinclair, South Portland, Maine) - You have probably heard nutritionists advise people to "eat a rainbow" of fruits and vegetables every day to promote good health. Now, scientists at the University of Southern Maine are hoping to put that rainbow in a bottle to fight diseases, including cancer.

August is high season for all kinds of fresh fruits and vegetables.

Organic beets were on top of Linda Green's shopping list.

"I grill them and roast them. I love beets, what can I say!"

Where Linda sees a tasty side dish, scientists at the University of Southern Maine see hidden potential.

Visiting Libra Scholar John Lechner is doing cancer research using the compound that gives beets their bright red color. He feeds it to lab mice and while the research hasn't been completed, his early findings are encouraging.

"We found that a small amount of this food dye will antagonize the development of cancer in lab animals," said Lechner.

He says the beet dye could one day be used to prevent lung cancer. He's already shown similar disease fighting properties with black raspberries and esophogeal cancer.

He says developing so-called "neutraceuticals" make sense because they are cheaper and potentially safer than many pharmaceuticals.

Farmers say the idea makes sense.

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