Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: August 8, 2005
Publication Date: N/A
Technical Abstract: There has recently been increasing public interest on the impact of food quality and public health. In the past, the agricultural industry was focused on maximizing the quantity of fruits and vegetables produced for commercial markets. However, modern consumers are now interested in optimizing the nutritional composition of foods in order to promote health. Therefore, much attention has now been placed on the agricultural practices which will enhance the nutritional content of horticultural crops being produced today. Horticultural crops such as fruits and vegetables have been shown to contain high levels of antioxidant compounds, which provide protection against harmful free radicals and have been suggested to lower the incidence and mortality rates of cancer and heart disease in addition to a number of other health benefits. The phytonutrient and antioxidant capacities of various fruits and vegetables and the factors which affect their antioxidant activities such as crop genotype variation and maturity, pre-harvest conditions and culture practices will be summarized. Evidence will also be presented on the prevention and inhibition of tumor growth by fruit extracts and bioactive compounds isolated from fruits. Many attractive opportunities exist for enhancing the quantity and quality of essential nutrients present in horticultural crops. Some strategies for establishing a new research and production paradigm such as improving selection criteria among different horticultural cultivars, improving pre-harvest conditions and post-harvest handling, and using tissue culture and genetic engineering that will embrace nutrient quality among the priorities of agricultural research will also be discussed.