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Bioactives in minimally processed carrots

23 March 2011

Polyacetylenes are natural products found in certain plants that have been related to a reduction in the risks of developing diseases such as certain types of cancers and other important diseases. Carrots contain relatively high contents of polyacetylenes. Recent studies have focussed on the polyacetylenes from carrots because their bioactive properties could have beneficial health effects.

They can be classified into four groups depending on the impact they have on human health – anti inflammatory and anti-platelet; anti fungal and anti-viral; anti-bacterial and anti-mycobacterial; and, cytotoxicity and anti-cancer. Falcarinol has emerged as the most active polyacetylene in carrots in terms of cytotoxicity against cancer cell lines. 

Researchers at the Teagasc Food Research Centre, Ashtown, as part of the Irish Phytochemical Food Network, are developing an understanding of how bioactive compounds in vegetables are affected by passage through the food chain. They assessed the impact of Modified Atmosphere Packaging, which is used to preserve ready-to-eat vegetable products such as carrot disks at the point of sale during chill storage.

In an article for TResearch, the Teagasc research and innovation magazine, Dr Juan Valverde and colleagues outline the results of their analysis. The results show that Modified Atmosphere Packaging is a useful way to retain polyacetylenes levels in carrots. None of the three major polyacetylenes in carrots showed significant difference from the control.