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Donald R. Davis

Three kinds of evidence point toward declines of some nutrients in fruits and vegetables available in the United States and the United Kingdom: 1) early studies of fertilization found inverse relationships between crop yield and mineral concentrations—the widely cited “dilution effect”; 2) three recent studies of historical food composition data found apparent median declines of 5% to 40% or more in some minerals in groups of vegetables and perhaps fruits; one study also evaluated vitamins and protein with similar results; and 3) recent side-by-side plantings of low- and high-yield cultivars of broccoli and grains found consistently negative correlations between yield and concentrations of minerals and protein, a newly recognized genetic dilution effect. Studies of historical food composition data are inherently limited, but the other methods can focus on single crops of any kind, can include any nutrient of interest, and can be carefully controlled. They can also test proposed methods to minimize or overcome the diluting effects of yield whether by environmental means or by plant breeding.

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Geoffrey Meru and Cecilia McGregor

, oleochemicals, lubricants, pharmaceuticals, and cosmetics ( Jarret and Levy, 2012 ; Panthee et al., 2006 ). To improve the nutritive value of watermelon seed and establish watermelon as a potential oil crop, it is critical to understand the genetic factors

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J.B. Magee

The origins, demise and current status of some common misconceptions about the role of fruit and vegetables in human nutrition are discussed. Most, but not all, of the misconceptions were held by the public. The early widespread belief that tomatoes were poisonous was gradually overcome, and today the tomato is one of the most versatile and widely used foods in the diet. Recent reports suggest that consumption of tomatoes and tomato products has the potential to reduce the risk of certain cancers. Our current awareness of the potential of spinach in nutrition and health evolved from an early misconception that its only important nutritive value was as a source of iron. The connection between foods from the nightshade family and arthritis and the connection of cherries and gout relief are discussed briefly. The misconception that a wide variety of fruit and vegetables was not needed in the human diet was rejected long ago. Today fruit and vegetables are considered essential for their intrinsic nutritive value and for their potential health functionality because of the phytochemicals they contain.

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James B. Magee

Many concepts of the nutritional value of fruit and vegetables generally accepted in the past, in the light of more knowledge, today are considered “misconceptions.” For example, the tomato, once considered poisonous, then shown edible, later proved to be a “good” food and a valuable source of minerals and vitamin C, today shows the potential for significant anti-cancer activity. Results of a 6-year study of the dietary habits of 47,000 men reported up to a 45% reduction in the incidence of prostate cancer of those who ate 10 or more servings per week of tomato-based products. Other misconceptions to be discussed include nightshade vegetables and arthritis, apples after meals to clean the teeth and gums, and “if a little is good for you, a lot must be better.” Today's nutritional ideas about many fruits and vegetables may become tomorrow's misconceptions as our knowledge of the composition (e.g., phytochemicals) of fruits and vegetables increases. Examples of this are include the use of muscadine pomace and the nutritive value of strawberries.

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John R. Stommel* and Robert J. Griesbach

Anthocyanins contribute to color development in economically important vegetables, fruits and floral crops. Their expression is critical to product sensory quality attributes, potential nutritive value, and stress response. Anthocyanins are synthesized in response to numerous environmental factors including temperature and light stress and pathogen attack. We have developed several Capsicum lines, including `02C27', expressing anthocyanin pigmentation differentially in various tissues (leaf, stem, fruit and flower). HPLC analysis demonstrated that the anthocyanins within the fruit, flower and leaves of Capsicum `02C27' were identical and that the major anthocyanidin was a delphinidin glycoside. Line `02C27' exhibits anthocyanin foliar pigmentation that is accumulated differentially in response to temperature stress. Under unfavorable low temperature (20 °C day/18 °C night), mature Capsicum leaves contained 4.6 times less anthocyanin per gram fresh weight than under high (30 °C day/28 °C; day/night) temperatures. Besides containing less anthocyanin in mature leaves, young immature leaves did not develop color as quickly under the lower temperature. Utilizing cloned and sequenced gene fragments of pepper chalcone synthase (CHS), dihydroflavonol 4-reductase (DFR), and anthocyanidin synthase (ANS), we evaluated the role of transcription in regulation of flavonol biosynthesis. Analysis of anthocyanin composition and gene expression data indicated that the block in anthocyanin formation in less pigmented leaves occurred at anthocyanin synthase. In contrast to wild tupe plants, this mutant also exhibited reduced flowering and failed to set fruit under high temperature, long day conditions.

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Thomas C. Koch* and Irwin L. Goldman

Carotenoids (provitamin A) and tocopherols (vitamin E) are powerful antioxidants in plants and in the human diet. Carrot (Daucus carota) has been selected for increased levels of carotenoids, contributing to its orange color and reported health benefits. Selection for increased tocopherol has shown success in seed oils, but little progress has been made in the edible portions of most vegetable crops. HPLC measurement following a simultaneous heptane extraction of both compounds has shown a significant (P ≤ 0.001) positive correlation of α-tocopherol with α-carotene (r = 0.65) and β-carotene (r = 0.52). To increase both the tocopherols and carotenoids in plants, 3 populations have been established from select open-pollinated varieties grown in 2002. These populations consist of half-sib families with these differing selection schemes: based strictly on increased α-tocopherol levels; an index to increase α-carotene, β-carotene and α-tocopherol; and a random population in which no selection is occurring. After one cycle of selection, populations were grown on muck soil during the summer of 2003. Compared with the random population, an increase of 24.68% in α-tocopherol concentration was recorded for the population selected strictly on α-tocopherol while increases of 8.47% in α-tocopherol, 9.31% in α-carotene and 7.31% in β-carotene were recorded for the population with index selection. The continuation of these carrot populations shows promise to produce carrot germplasm with improved human nutritive value.

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Fumiomi Takeda, Gene Lester, Craig Chandler, Penny Perkins-Veazie and Ronald Prior

Fresh strawberries (Fragaria ×ananassa Duch) are readily available throughout the year with several new cultivars being successfully grown in diverse environmental conditions (e.g., field and greenhouse). Consumption of strawberries with higher nutritive values and antioxidant activity may contribute to improved human wellness. Phytonutrient contents and antioxidant activity was measured as oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC) were assayed in berries (`Camarosa', `Diamante', and `Gaviota') sampled in January, February to March, and April to May from fields in Plant City, Fla., and Oxnard, Calif., and from a greenhouse in Kearneysville, WV. Strawberry cultivars varied in skin color, soluble solids, total phenolics, and anthocyanins, ascorbic acid, folic acid, and ORAC activity. Response to environment was cultivar dependent. All phytonutrient constituents were lower in `Diamante' berries compared to `Camarosa' and `Gaviota'. For all cultivars, berry ORAC activity declined as TSS increased, and ORAC activity was coincident with phenolic content. ORAC activity in berries fruit harvested from plants grown in a temperature-controlled greenhouse did not change during the January to May sampling period. For `Gaviota', ORAC activity in greenhouse-produced berries was the same as that of field-produced berries. Whereas greenhouse vs. field-gown `Camarosa' and `Diamante' berries ORAC was higher and lower respectively. These findings demonstrate that the environmental conditions in greenhouses in Kearneysville, W.Va., from winter to spring are adequate for `Camarosa' and `Gaviota' color development, but not for `Diamante' strawberries. Of the three cultivars, only `Camarosa' was highly productive (1.2 kg berries per plant), even in the greenhouse. Berries were high in ascorbic acid, folic acid, phenolic acid, anthocyanins, and ORAC activity.

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John R. Stommel and Bruce D. Whitaker

Eggplant (Solanum melongena L.) is ranked among the top ten vegetables in terms of oxygen radical absorbance capacity due to its fruit's phenolic constituents. Several potential health promoting effects have been ascribed to plant phenolic phytochemicals. We report here a first evaluation of phenolic acid constituents in eggplant fruit from accessions in the USDA eggplant core subset. The core subset includes 101 accessions of the cultivated eggplant, S. melongena, and 14 accessions representing four related eggplant species, S. aethiopicum L., S. anguivi Lam., S. incanum L., and S. macrocarpon L. Significant differences in phenolic acid content and composition were evident among the five eggplant species and among genotypes within species. Fourteen compounds separated by HPLC, that were present in many but not all accessions, were identified or tentatively identified as hydroxycinnamic acid (HCA) derivatives based on HPLC elution times, UV absorbance spectra, ES-—MS mass spectra, and in some cases proton NMR data. These phenolics were grouped into five classes: chlorogenic acid isomers, isochlorogenic acid isomers, hydroxycinnamic acid amide conjugates, unidentified caffeic acid conjugates, and acetylated chlorogenic acid isomers. Among S. melongena accessions, there was a nearly 20-fold range in total HCA content. Total HCA content in S. aethiopicum and S. macrocarpon was low relative to S. melongena. A S. anguivi accession had the highest HCA content among core subset accessions. Chlorogenic acid isomers ranged from 63.4% to 96% of total HCAs in most core accessions. Two atypical accessions, S. anguivi PI 319855 and S. incanum PI500922, exhibited strikingly different HCA conjugate profiles, which differed from those of all other core subset accessions by the presence of several unique phenolic compounds. Our findings on eggplant fruit phenolic content provide opportunities to improve eggplant fruit quality and nutritive value.

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Mark W. Farnham and Michael A. Grusak

mind, a few recent research studies have sought to determine whether cultivars of crops, introduced during past decades, might yield harvested products with varying nutritive value and possibly demonstrate significant changes in the nutritional value

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Rafael Socias i Company and A.J. Felipe

, that of higher quality for fat stability and nutritive value in the lipid fraction, is especially high in ‘Belona’, over 75% ( Table 4 ). This cultivar also shows a very high content of tocopherols (both of α-tocopherol and total tocopherol), although