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Gorilla diet protects heart: grains of paradise


Aframomum melegueta seeds / Lemmikkipuu / LicenseCC-by - Attribution

Gingerols in Grains of Paradise plant protect gorillas from heart disease by reducing inflammation and inhibiting production of C-reactive protein.

"The ultimate answer to captive gorillas’ heart problems may be quietly growing in West Africa’s vine-choked swamps: a member of the ginger family, Aframomum melegueta, better known as 'grains of paradise.' This plant, which wild western lowland gorillas preferentially eat, contains a powerful anti-inflammatory compound. As scientists learn more about the inflammatory process that underlies heart disease, the lack of Aframomum and other African plants in captive gorillas' diets has emerged as a chief suspect in their poor health." (Dybas and Raskin 2007:394)
About the inspiring organism
Med_800pxgrainsofparadisefruits Grains of paradise
Aframomum melegueta K.Schum.
Common name: Melegueta pepper

Learn more at
Some organism data provided by: World Checklist of Selected Plant Families
Organism/taxonomy data provided by:
Species 2000 & ITIS Catalogue of Life: 2008 Annual Checklist

IUCN Red List Status: Unknown

Bioinspired products and application ideas

Application Ideas: Drug to treat methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, heart disease, arthritis, osteoporosis, hypercholesteremia and Alzheimer's; cardiac research on the advanced electrical conduction system of gorilla hearts; human viral cardiomyopathy research; dietary choices for captive animals in zoos and parks;

Industrial Sector(s) interested in this strategy: Drug Development, Pharmacology, Health Services, Cosmetic Industry, Beverage Industry, Cardiac Research

Raskin's Laboratory
Ilya Raskin
Biotech Center for Agriculture & the Environment, Rutgers
Dybas, C.L.; Raskin, I. 2007. Out of Africa: A Tale of Gorillas, Heart Disease…and a Swamp Plant. BioScience. 57(5): 392-397.
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