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Health Benefits of Arugula Increase Post-Harvest

5/2/17 9:29 AM

It's a discovery that goes against the assumption that fresh produce loses its beneficial nutrients once it's picked and processed. A new study out of the University of Reading in the UK found that cancer-fighting nutrients in rocket leaves, also known as arugula, increased during post-harvest shelf life.

Food scientists found that arugula contains a compound called sulforaphane, which has properties that can protect against prostate and gastrointestinal cancer. It's the high level of this compound that give arugula its peppery flavor.

The process of harvesting triggers the formation of sulforaphane in arugula, but the "violent" methods of mechanical picking and washing caused an initial fall in levels. However, after a week of being left in a fridge at four degrees, levels of sulforaphane bounced back up to three times. Despite the recovery of sulforaphane, the presence of some other vitamins and nutrients deteriorated over the same period of time.

"With regular consumption of rocket and sulforaphane, consumers could potentially improve their long-term health and reduce the risk of developing other chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease," says Dr. Luke Bell, a food chemist at the University of Reading.

Whether you like it mild, hot or peppery, this study goes to show that arugula isn't always best when it's fresh! But given the time it takes to package and distribute the leafy green, it should reach grocery store shelves at the peak of its quality.

Monitoring the conditions in which food is being processed is important to ensure the quality and safety of the final product. MadgeTech offers a variety of data loggers to help verify the proper temperatures are being met during cooking, cooling, shipping and storage. MadgeTech data loggers are also ideal for verifying the effectiveness of HACCP plans, which are required for food processor by most state and government regulations. To view the entire collection of data logging solutions for food processing operations, click here.

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