You are here: Phytochemicals & Nutrition Laboratory »

Tag : Fruits

Flavor and nutritional quality of fruits

Plant breeders have been successful in selecting genotypes with much higher contents of ascorbic acid (vitamin C) in guava, pineapple, and tomatoes, beta carotene (provitamin A) in pineapple and tomatoes, and flavonoids in berries and tomatoes. Biotechnology approaches coupled with plant breeding can be utilized to improve the content of vitamins, minerals, dietary fiber, and phytonutrients in fruits, especially those with high per capita consumption rates. Phytonutrients that can lower the risk of heart disease, cancer, and other diseases include carotenoids and flavonoids (anthocyanins, phenolic acids, polyphenols). The antioxidant capacity of fruits is related to their contents of anthocyanins, phenolic compounds, carotenoids, ascorbic acid, and vitamin E. Large genotypic variation in total antioxidant capacity have been shown in many fruits, indicating the potential for further genetic improvements.... Read more

Do we need to produce more fruits and vegetables in the world?

Wherever one goes, in almost every country in the world, there are major efforts to cultivate more lands, and to produce more foods, especially more fruits and vegetables, because of increased consumer demand due to health interest and to better economic situations in some countries, and also because of need for export in several (especially Developing) countries. Current total world production of fresh fruits and vegetables (FFV), except nuts and potatoes, is about 1,350 million metric tons (MMT), an increase of 43% over the decade 1994 to 2003. Of these, 1,050 MMT are produced in Developing Countries (DC). World fresh fruit production is about 488 MMT, of which 365 MMT are produced in DC, and world vegetables production is about 861 MMT of which 681 MMT are produced in DC. Health organizations recommend the consumption of at least 400 grams of fruits and vegetables daily, but average consumption is still much lower than that in most countries. The low consumption is due to several problems ranging from cultural reasons (the diet of some cultures is still dependent on food of animal origin), high cost, little availability of a diversity of good quality fresh fruits and vegetables in some markets, and even worries in some countries about potential chemical or genetic contamination. To accomplish the average consumption of 400g/day (146 Kg/year/person) we need to have 876 MMT of FFV every year. That means we are producing much more than we need to be able to insure at least 400 grams of fruits and vegetables to every humans of the 6000 millions that we have. We can use the extra 35% that we are producing for processing and other purposes. A reasonable estimate of current average consumption of FFV in the world is about 200 grams/day/person, meaning that in order to accomplish this we only need one third of what we are currently producing (about 438 MMT). However, the problem is much more complicated than simplifying it in this manner. Pre-harvest, and especially postharvest losses are enormous, reaching more than 50% in some regions and in some perishable crops, making it very difficult in some regions to have available amount of FFV to accomplish even the least minimum. However, I do not think that keeping producing more and more, especially in a non sustainable manner, at a very high cost for the environment, is a very valid solution. I am sure that there are still some regions where we can increase production without a very high cost, economically and environmentally, but I think that a much better solution would be to concentrate much more on what we are currently producing, and make the best out of it. We need to optimize what we already have by significantly improving the postharvest chain, especially in DC, and especially making sure that these perishable commodities can be distributed in a safe and secure manner. The postharvest chain in most countries, especially in DC, is still extremely week, and that is costing the world huge losses in food, nutrition, health, energy, more environmental problems, etc. Great knowledge on postharvest biology and technology have accumulated in the last few decades, and we only need to find ways to make it available, and get people to use it adequately.... Read more