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Study aims to model the level of glucosinolates (Gls) in cruciferous vegetables (Cv) following thermal processing and to evaluate subsequent human exposure

21 May 2015

The link between the consumption of fruit and vegetables and improvement in health has long been known, and has been shown to have a major impact in improvements in cardiovascular health as well as reducing the potential of developing cancers. As well as being a good source of vitamins and minerals plant materials also contain other compounds which may be beneficial to health.

Once of these groups of chemicals is glucosinolates (Gl), sulphur containing organic compounds. These compounds are unstable and broken down by an enzyme called myrosinase, producing isothiocyanates, which are chemicals that have been shown to have anti-cancer properties and inhibit cell proliferation.

In a study carried published in LWT – Food Science and Technology, modelling carried out by Uma Tiwari et al investigated the effect of different cooking techniques on the bioavailability of Gl breakdown products from cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and Brussel sprouts) after being prepared by a variety of different techniques including boiling, blanching and steaming.

The study showed that in general the reduction in the availability of Gl breakdown products  was effected by two main factors, thermal decomposition and leaching. Leaching of these nutrients was clearly evident when the samples had been prepared by boiling or blanching as the level of Gl breakdown products was much reduced when compared to steaming. 

Thermal degradation was also shown to have an effect, as vegetables which had been boiled showed lower levels of Gl breakdown products than for blanched vegetables.  This was most likely due to must denaturation of the myrosinase enzyme, reducing the breakdown of Gl into useful by-products.

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