Blueberries may have been dubbed a "superfood" by some, but the fruit may have met its match with a new variety of lettuce developed by Rutgers University.
Named Rutgers Scarlet Lettuce as a tribute to the school's mascots, the Scarlet Knights, the variety is high in polyphenols and has a low glycemic index, according to a news release.
Polyphenols are plant-based chemicals known for beneficial properties, such as helping with diabetes, metabolic syndrome and obesity.
The glycemic index refers to how the food affects blood sugar. Foods with a low glycemic index prevent blood sugar spikes.
In laboratory trials, mice fed the scarlet lettuce showed significant decreases in blood glucose and insulin resistance compared ith diabetic mice given regular lettuce.
The variety, developed through conventional breeding techniques, has a deep red burgundy color. It has two to three times the levels of polyphenols as blueberries.
In another trial, diet-induced obese mice fed a high-fat diet supplemented with the scarlet lettuce had improved glucose metabolism compared to mice fed green lettuce or a high-fat diet without the scarlet lettuce.
Rutgers has patented the variety and licensed it to Nutrasorb LLC, a university spin-off company taht specializes in enhancing active plant compounds in foods.
Nutrasorb has granted a license to Shamrock Seeds as the exclusive seed dealer for the scarlet variety.
Salinas, Calif.-based Coastline Family Farms is the first major produce grower-shipper to launch a product based on the scarlet lettuce.
It's Nutraleaf burgundy leaf lettuce and Nutraleaf burgundy romaine will be distributed throughout North and South America.