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QUAFETY project reveals how nitrates and glucosinolates can indicate nutritional quality in Rocket"Rocket" refers to a widely consumed leafy vegetable belonging to Diplotaxis and Eruca genera of Brassicaceae family.
Rocket is an important leafy vegetable and is a good source of antioxidant compounds and anti-cancer molecules such as glucosinolates and other sulfur compounds. Conversely, rocket is also a great accumulator of nitrates (up to 7000 mg nitrates per kg of fresh weight) that are considered the cause of gastro-intestinal cancer.
The scientists of University of Milan (Italy) and partners in the European Project Quafety have written a review that was published last 14 April 2014 on ‘Nutrients’ journal. The review describes the content of nitrates and glucosinolates in rocket whose levels at harvest and during storage have been discussed.
Besides glucosinolates, rocket contains high levels of fiber, nutritionally important minerals (Mg, Ca, Fe, and K) and secondary metobolites like ascorbic acid (110 mg /100 g in the leaves), flavonoids and carotenoids (lutein and b-carotene), which are collectively called antioxidants.
Moreover, the scientists have highlighted the effects of all these compounds in preventing or inducing human diseases. The review provides the state of art of the most recent studies on rocket, and on the base of these studies we should consume rocket to reduce the risk of contracting cancer or other cardiovascular diseases.
Nowadays, the consumers are very interested in the beneficial effects provided by the produce they eat, for this reason the current rocket breeding programs are aimed at improving the shelf-life and the nutritional quality as well as at reducing nitrates accumulation.
It would be necessary to develop new cultivars that are more tolerant to pre- and postharvest stresses in order to obtain cultivars with an higher content of health promoting compounds, reduced nitrates accumulation and higher resistance to environmental stresses.
Source: Cavaiuolo M. and Ferrante A., ‘Nitrates and glucosinolates as strong determinants of the nutritional quality in rocket leafy salads’, 14 April 2014, Nutrients, Issue 6, pagg. 1519-1538. Download .pdf.
For further info on Quafety project: www.quafety.eu
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