Fruit & Vegetable Magazine

Features Production Research
Fresh fruits and vegetables retain antioxidants long after purchase


April 17, 2008
By Fruit & Vegetable

Topics

The next time you think about
throwing out those aging strawberries or very ripe grapes, consider
this: Belgian scientists report that fruits and vegetables do not lose
any antioxidant content in the days after purchase, even as tell-tale
signs of spoilage appear.

The next time you think about throwing out those aging strawberries or very ripe grapes, consider this: Belgian scientists report that fruits and vegetables do not lose any antioxidant content in the days after purchase, even as tell-tale signs of spoilage appear. In fact, in some cases, antioxidant levels actually rise.

The life of a post-harvest fruit or vegetable is traditionally defined in terms of visual appearance and texture. While this is good for aesthetics, these benchmarks disregard flavour and nutritional quality — especially with regards to antioxidants, which are affected by genetic, technological and environmental factors.

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Claire Kevers and colleagues obtained various produce from the Belgian market, measuring its initial antioxidant content. They then stored the fruits and vegetables at room temperature or refrigerated them at 39 F, checking antioxidant levels at various times until the produce presented visual spoilage. The results showed that, in the days following purchase, fruits and vegetables do not lose any phenolic compounds, ascorbic acid or flavonols — a trio of chemical classes associated with antioxidant content.

“Better, in some cases, an increase on the antioxidant capacity was observed in the days following their purchase, accompanied by an increase in phenolic compounds,” the researchers state.
The study appeared in the Oct. 17 issue of the American Chemical Society’s (ACS) Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, a bi-weekly publication.