Nutritional Quality and Nutraceutical Potential of Fruits and Vegetables as a tool for Genetic Breeding Programs
Keywords:nutrition, antioxidants, ORAC, genetic breeding
Prevention of the development of chronic diseases related to metabolic syndrome has been found to depend on a healthy diet. Among healthy foods, fruits and vegetables play a very important role due to their nutrient content, especially antioxidants, vitamins and polyphenols. For 20 years, INIA has promoted the concept of quality associated to the differentiation of products in the fruit and horticultural sectors, considering aspects not only linked to the organoleptic qualities, but also the production processes that ensure food safety and nutritional contribution. More recently, research works have been implemented to contribute to highlighting the role of fruits and vegetables as nutraceutical foods, contributing to the prevention of chronic non-transmissible human diseases such as diabetes, cancer, or obesity. Also, to contribute to the knowledge of the effects of factors as breeding and culture management on the nutritional potential and promote production, consumption and commercialization. The bioactive compounds content and in vitro antioxidant activity (DPPH and ORAC) were characterized in different genotypes of native fruits, onion, potato, strawberry, sweet potato and tomato. High levels of flavonoids (quercetin) were found in onions and advanced lines. Samples of tomatoes, potatoes, sweet potatoes, and strawberries showed high contents of phenolic compounds, ascorbic acid, anthocyanins, total carotenoids, and total antioxidant capacity (ORAC) with a great interspecies variability; so, they can be included in the development of varieties differentiated by nutraceutical attributes. The analyses conducted also demonstrate the potential of native fruits as sources of essential nutrients, with contents comparable to and even superior to other fruits considered "superfruits". Through selection and breeding, national varieties can be developed with outstanding organoleptic characteristics, good levels of bioactive compounds, and antioxidant properties that contribute to the health of the population.
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