The Canadian Centre for Agri-Food Research in Health and Medicine in Winnipeg is doing work to learn more about harnessing the health benefits of the food we eat.

Researchers and their work on foods, ranging from flaxseed to beans to berries and grapes, were on display at a donor event held last week at the St. Boniface Hospital Albrechtsen Research Centre.

Heart failure research laboratory principal investigator Dr. Thomas Netticaban says he's been looking at the heart-health benefits of berries and grapes for many years now.

"We are looking at whether grapes or berries, and the components within them, are able to protect the heart against hypertension or against diabetes or against obesity, which are the risk factors for heart disease," said Dr. Netticaban.

University of Manitoba Human Nutritional Sciences PhD student Jaime Clark was another researcher on hand Wednesday. She was giving a snapshot of her PhD thesis; Clark is exploring how beans with different seed coat colours affect our blood vessels right after eating them.

According to CCARM cell biology lab principal investigator and executive director of research at St. Boniface Hospital Dr. Grant Pierce, flaxseed is an extremely healthy crop that they believe will have economic implications for farmers once the public is aware of flaxseed's health benefits, and starts to use it more.

"The decrease in blood pressure is at least as good as any other dietary intervention that is available out there. So flaxseed appeared to reduce blood pressure in patients with high blood pressure more than any other food that we know," said Dr. Pierce.

Dr. Pierce says CCARM is currently conducting a clinical trial to see if flaxseed can work independently of and replace drugs when it comes to people with high blood pressure.

CCARM team leader Dr. Carla Taylor says CCARM now has about 100 people, including researchers, students, and technical staff.