Current study: Stress makes vegetables better

Current study: Stress makes vegetables better

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More phytonutrients through the influence of light
Eating half a pound of broccoli or white cabbage a day to get enough antioxidants - unthinkable. But it would be extremely cheap in terms of the amount needed to protect us from harmful effects. Scientists are therefore increasingly concerned about how the natural ingredients in fruits and vegetables could be naturally enriched so that smaller portions will have a similar beneficial effect in the future.

In doing so, they make use of the knowledge that some plants tend to develop their storage or reproductive organs faster under stress and at the same time also form more secondary substances. The scientists in the project funded by the Federal Ministry of Economics chose a simple and effective source as a stress factor: light.

It causes stress reactions in plants at certain wavelengths and intensities. The development of storage organs and flowers can be specifically controlled by changing the proportions of light red, dark red or blue light. This affects, for example, the tuber of kohlrabi or the root of radishes. In radishes, for example, 48 percent more riboflavin was formed under a red film. A green film triggered a similar effect for kohlrabi.

The experiments also showed that not only the required color spectrum is different, but also the point in time: The change in the light spectrum only makes sense at certain stages of the plant's development, according to the scientists. In the 1990s, it was found that antioxidants from fruits and vegetables have a health-promoting and preventive effect against cancer. The fact that plants form (light) stress substances that humans particularly need when stressed by environmental factors is perhaps another sign that nature is the cleverer inventor than humans. (Friederike Heidenhof, aid)

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