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.
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.