Studying the health benefits of plants, animals
oilseeds to seal oil
10, 2000, Gazette)
Dr. Fereidoon Shahidi
so often, a new buzzword seems to appear as the focus of research
in the field of food science and nutrition. The 80s saw
the term biotechnology, while in the 90s the
buzzword was undoubtedly antioxidants.
we begin the new decade, nutraceuticals and phytochemicals
seem to have become a main focus of research.
noted Memorial food scientist Dr. Fereidoon Shahidi, university
research professor, these topics are more than just buzzwords.
Under one banner, I can say what defines our work is phytochemicals
and nutraceuticals, stated Dr. Shahidi. Phytochemicals
refer to plant-based bioactive compounds, many of which have
antioxidant properties. Nutraceuticals refer to products consumed
in the form of pills, capsules, powder, or liquid that may be
animal or plant derived and are used for their health benefits
and not their usual nutrition.
example, people do not take seal oil for its energy value, but
instead for its benefits. Thats a nutraceutical.
Shahidi knows well the benefits of seal oil. Believing that seals
can be completely utilized, Dr. Shahidi was the first to engage
in research on seals and seal products and is one of the key
proponents of the Newfoundland seal industry.
research has included seals for some time now, and he has been
credited with helping to breathe new life into the seal industry.
seals are only one of the many aspects of his work. Indeed, Dr.
Shahidis research covers flora and fauna as diverse as
almonds and sea urchins, and from oilseeds to seal oil. His research
has led him to write 23 books and over 350 research publications,
earned a number of patents, and given him international renown.
Students from all over the world come to Memorial just to study
under Dr. Shahidi, a fact he considers to be both humbling and
day I counted and I had people from 11 different countries in
may be part of the reason why Dr. Shahidi enjoys teaching at
both the graduate and undergraduate level as well as conducting
his world-class research. He presently has 11 researchers ranging
from honours undergraduate to post doctorate fellows and a visiting
professor working in his laboratory.
yet, this has been the minimum number of students in his lab
for a number of years. He also teaches an undergraduate course
in food chemistry as well as graduate courses in food biochemistry,
marine biochemistry, and others. His devotion to his students
is such that his office door is always open to any student who
pure physical-organic chemist by training, Dr. Shahidi discovered
his interest in food science while studying free radicals at
the University of Toronto in the late 70s. Upon seeing
how free radicals can form in the body and in food, Dr. Shahidi
became interested in food science. That interest eventually led
him to Memorial University, where he uses his background in chemistry
to conduct food science research.
He was named university research professor in 1998.
all comes down to the use of chemistry and analytical methods,
he said. The use of it and seeing your final work being
reduced to practice in terms of a product, not just a publication
that may collect dust on a shelf, is what has given me the energy
to move more to reduce the basic science into practice and allow
it to be used by the general public.