Instituto Tecnológico Agroalimentario de Extremadura (INTAEX): Mercedes Lozano Ruiz, Mª Teresa Hernández Méndez, Esperanza Valdés Sánchez, David González Gómez y Rosario Ramírez Bernabé.
Universidad de Extremadura:
Universidad de Évora:
Instituto Politécnico de Portalegre.
Escuela Superior de Agronomía de Elvas: Graça Pacheco Ribeiro.
Instituto Politécnico de Beja.
Escuela Superior de Agronomía de Beja: João Canada.
Coordinador del proyecto o investigador responsable: Mercedes Lozano Ruiz (INTAEX) y Ana Cristina Agulheiro-Santos (Departamento de Fitotecnia, Universidad de Évora).
The difficulty of promoting fruit and vegetables consume is a constant that can be reduced through the systematic information about its healthy and nutritive properties to the consumer, as well as through the standardization of the sensorial and qualitative characteristics, commercialising fruit of homogeneous quality.The consumer makes an intime and almost exclusive association among quality and organoleptic characteristics.
That way it is justified the need to proceed to the sensorial evaluation of dried fruit and those that have been put down to new technologies of conservation, that let extend the shelf life and increase their consume.
The promotion that has been done by the Administration and Associations as ‘5 al día’ to increase the consume of fruits and vegetables is succeeding, and the consume is expected to grow in the following years.
On the other hand, it is increasing the number of scientific evidences that point that the fruit and vegetable consume is a determining factor in the prevention of a high variety of degenerating diseases that are showing a high incidence in the developed countries (determined kinds of cancer, obesity, diabetes, vascular diseases, etc), linked to the oxidation/antioxidation phenomenon.
Cellular oxidation is produced in the organism, due to the presence of free radicals. These non desired reactions are very dangerous because of the irreversible damages that they produce in the cell essential components (membrane lipids, nucleic acids, etc.) in a process known as oxidative stress. The mentioned stress is associated to the cellular aging, degenerating diseases, arteries block, appearance of different types of cancer, reduction of sperm quality, deterioration of the immunity system, etc.
In this sense, it is well known that the melatonin hormone, present in some fruit and other edible plants, is a potent endogenous agent and free radicals kidnapper, with a better antioxidant effect than vitamins C and E. Likewise, the melatonin antioxidant actions are known nowadays, it stimulates other antioxidant defences, it improves the immunity system, acting as a preventive and therapeutic agent in some cancerous pathologies. Thus it is necessary to keep going deeply into the study of this substance in fruit and vegetables in our regions.
Another very interesting phytochemical is the lycopene, a natural pigment synthesized by determined plants and microorganisms, which is specially abundant in the tomato. Despite of the use of lycopene as a colorant is very interesting, without hesitation, its most remarkable property is the antioxidant capacity, what confers it some singular properties as healthy food, due to the fact that the daily consume of low quantities (2-15 mg), prevents diseases associated to oxidative stress.
On the other hand, as it is said, fruit is consumed for its attractive appearance, colour and flavour, thus its sensorial characteristics are important to increase its consume.
The sensorial analysis is a tool used more and more as a fresh products control, to evaluate the maturity and acceptance level, as well as the preserved products by using different post harvest techniques.
To get the panel of testers to behave like an objective instrument of measure, independently of the sensitivity of the different individuals who take part of it, it is necessary to choose a boss of the panel and the testers and train them. A very important aspect about the work of the panel is to familiarize the testers to the food they have to evaluate and to get a homogeneous criteria about the analysed parameters.
The test data treatment is important to be able to correlate the sensorial analyses results with the components responsible of the sensorial attributes (sugar, acids, phenols, colorants, aromas, etc.)
The fundamental objective of the project is the promotion of the fruit consume attending to its nutritional and organoleptic value.
To settle this project, it is proposed to arrange a panel of testers specialized in fruit in the research centres and a panel of consumers among the different segments in the society (childhood, youth, fruit and vegetable sector, etc.). Simultaneously, it is proposed the evaluation of sensorial quality of those products that are put down to new technologies of cold preservation, Controlled. Atmosphere, 1-MCP application, minimally processed technologies and high pressure.
It is proposed the evaluation of the antioxidants, which are present in fruit and vegetables, through physiological studies in order to identify the beneficial effects on the health of individuals with different ages.
It is proposed to quantify the most important physical-chemical (ªBrix, pH, acidez) and reologic components for the characterization of varieties of the studied fruit as well as the lycopene, carotene, antocianin and ascorbic acid.