Rocket anti-cancer compound boost comes a week after harvesting, say researchers

Anti-cancer compounds in rocket salad leaves increase during post-harvest shelf life, according researchers at the University of Reading.

Image: F Delventhal (CC BY 2.0)
Image: F Delventhal (CC BY 2.0)

They discovered that compounds called isothiocyanates (ITCs) which fight forms of cancer including prostate and gastrointestinal cancers, were significantly more abundant in rocket one week after processing, but then tailed off.

Remarkably, the ITC sulforaphane increased by up to three times following commercial processing and seven days of shelf life.

University of Reading food chemist Dr Luke Bell said: "The discovery is really surprising, going against the assumption that nutrients found in rocket will dissipate over the period of time following harvest.

"Our study has shown that the processing actually has a potentially beneficial effect to consumers, and that rocket lovers can have confidence in the health boost a bag of rocket will give them."

The researchers also analysed whether the levels of the cancer fighting compounds varied according to the flavour profile of rocket.

"The cancer-fighting compounds are prevalent in each variety, meaning that regardless of whether you like rocket mild or hot and peppery, you will still get the same potential health boost," Bell added.

The study was funded by research council and part-sponsored by Bakkavor and Elsoms Seeds. 

Bakkavor's agronomic development technologist Dr Lorraine Shaw said: "As a leading supplier of prepared salads we are keen to support research projects such as this, in order to further understand the role key ingredients can play in the healthy eating habits of consumers."

Elsoms managing director Robin Wood added: "We want to understand how we can improve the taste sensation of rocket for the benefit of the consumer, so we were delighted to support the project which has given us valuable information for our rocket breeding programme."


Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Sign up now
Already registered?
Sign in

Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus

Read These Next

What will post-Brexit pesticides authorisation and capital support for fresh produce look like?

What will post-Brexit pesticides authorisation and capital support for fresh produce look like?

The likely impact on seasonal labour has dominated discussions of the consequences of withdrawal from the EU for UK production horticulture.

What can be done to stave off labour shortages in fresh produce?

What can be done to stave off labour shortages in fresh produce?

With a seasonal labour shortfall starting to take its toll in production horticulture, and some crops already being left unpicked, growers' representatives say clarity from the Government on migrant labour is now essential.

Can English wine continue to build on its success?

Can English wine continue to build on its success?

This week's merger between the UK Vineyards Association (UKVA) and English Wine Producers (EWP), signalled a renewed determination to drive the industry forward at home and abroad.


Follow us on:
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
  • Google +
Horticulture Jobs
More Horticulture Jobs

Pest & Disease Tracker bulletin 

The latest pest and disease alerts, how to treat them, plus EAMU updates, sent direct to your inbox.

Sign up here

Professor Geoffrey Dixon

GreenGene International chair Geoff Dixon on the business of fresh produce production
 

Read Professor Geoffrey Dixon