Jane shares health benefits of resistant starch
Jay-lin Jane, distinguished professor in food science and human nutrition, has studied starch extensively throughout her career. She traveled to Brazil to share her expertise in resistant starch with faculty and students at the State University of Campinas (UNICAMP), the second largest university in Brazil.
Jane was invited to visit UNICAMP through the study without borders program. The program provides funds for universities to invite experts from around the world and for students to travel outside the country to study with other scholars, gaining expertise in their field. “Brazil is placing a real emphasis on higher education,” Jane said. Professors, students and industry members travel hundreds of kilometers to hear guests speak.
At the university, Jane provided in-depth lectures on the properties and different structures of starch, including resistant starch. Resistant starch is a type of modified starch easy to incorporate into a variety of foods, due to its bland taste, and functions similar to dietary fiber, according to Jane.
Through 10 days spent in the country, Jane lectured for more than 18 hours. She gave research seminars at the university for more than 100 people, two days of intensive lectures to a class of graduate students, and another research seminar to Embrapa (Brazilian National Research Institutes).
Jane also shared research exploring the health benefits of resistant starch for humans, a topic of particular interest as Brazil fights an obesity problem which some say is more severe than in the United States. Foods high in resistant starch have fewer calories and lower levels of sugars – important factors for diabetics and the weight-conscious, Jane told the audience.
Many faculty at UNICAMP are interested in visiting Iowa State to learn more about properties of resistant starch, said Jane. Students are also interested in visiting Jane to learn about resistant starch, “sandwiching” the abroad experience with their studies in Brazil, a practice the country encourages.
Scientists who heard Jane speak on her work at the Embrapa, similar to a USDA research center, in Rio de Janeiro are also interested in visiting to explore applications and implications of starch in food.
Jane’s research on resistant starch and its health benefits has captured the interest of scientists around the world. In addition to Brazil, she has been invited to Taiwan, the Netherlands, Thailand, China, Japan, Sweden, Indonesia, and Korea to participate in national and international conferences as well as deliver seminars on her work.
UNICAMP has three campuses - in Campinas, Piracicaba and Limeira - which are home to 22 teaching and research centers. It also has a vast hospital complex; 23 interdisciplinary centers; and two technical high schools.
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