My research aims to develop guidelines on what specific fruits/vegetables reduce risk of chronic disease. We believe that the benefits of plant-based diets are due to bioactives called flavonoids. We apply an integrated approach to investigate their impact on human health including studying absorption/metabolism, impact on biomarkers/incident disease, and mechanisms of action. Our main focus is on one flavonoid group, anthocyanins, and our current data suggest that three portions/week of anthocyanin-rich foods can reduce risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and Parkinson’s disease. Our ongoing clinical trial is investigating in vivo mechanisms and determining the impact of metabolism on cardiometabolic health.
Once I finished my PhD my goal was to be a mum. Although the juggle of career/parenthood began early, the payoff is that both kids are now at University. I worked part-time for 11 years which built flexibility into the system while my husband and I managed two science careers and two children. My career has predominantly been in academia, although I had a short spell in industry. Efficiency has been my key to progressing. In 1999 I had a major health setback - a stroke that left me with a visual impairment - but I think these setbacks make you more resilient.