Polytechnic University of Cartagena

Spain: Thesis demonstrates the health properties of Bimi broccoli

Javier Navarro Rico, PhD student at the Polytechnic University of Cartagena (UPCT), has defended his thesis on Bimi, a natural hybrid between broccoli and Chinese kale, showing its beneficial health properties and outlining the optimal minimal processing required to extend its shelf life and maintain, and even increase, its antioxidant power.

Navarro Rico's doctoral thesis, led by researchers of the School of Agricultural Engineering and the Institute of Plant Biotechnology (IBV) of the UPCT, Artés Calero and Artés Hernández, has analysed the different methods of minimal processing and their impact on the quality of this new vegetable compared to a traditional broccoli. The electrolyzed water disinfection and exposure to ultraviolet C light to inactivate pathogens, which are pioneering techniques in Spain, have proven to be very effective to achieve a shelf life of fifteen days, which is "more than enough for its marketing as a ready-to-eat product," says the PhD student.

The Bimi is characterised by a floret that resembles that of broccoli, with a tender and thin stalk, like that of asparagus, which makes it possible to eat it raw. In fact, research with blood and urine tests has found that this product's bioactive compounds (anticancer, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory) are better absorbed than those of other cruciferous vegetables, such as conventional broccoli, cauliflower or cabbage. This data was collected in partnership with the Nutrition Unit of the Reina Sofía Hospital in Murcia.

Murcia is one of Europe's major producing regions for this new vegetable which, however, is only sold in Spain. Its flavour is milder and sweeter than that of conventional broccoli.

"The thesis provides the technological conditions to introduce this new vegetable to the Spanish processing industry, while maintaining its beneficial health properties," notes Francisco Artés Calero. "The study will allow consumers to know more about the high health value of this new broccoli when it is marketed as a ready-to-eat," adds Francisco Artés Hernández, "while giving producers and marketers access to technological innovations of easy industrial application."

The study, developed at the Group of Post-harvest and Refrigeration (GPR) of the Department of Food Engineering and at the IBV of the UPCT, has been mentioned in numerous publications of major scientific journals. Sakata Seeds Ibérica has funded the project through a research contract with the UPCT, while the cooperative Sacoje has provided plant material.

Source: Polytechnic University of Cartagena

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