Study examines health benefits of older varieties of fruit

 

Old varieties of apples, bananas and onions are part of a UK study to potentially give consumers products with "significantly" higher levels of nutrients, it has been announced.

A consortium including Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, and Cranfield University, assembled by consumer goods firm Unilever, will examine "pre-domesticated" varieties of plants which have been changed relatively little by breeding and could contain higher nutrient levels.

It follows research by Unilever which found that the Egremont Russet variety of apple contains up to 10 times more of a phytonutrient than some modern varieties - thought to be one example of older plant varieties being richer in nutrients and fibre.

Unilever said it hoped that the study, co-funded by the Technology Strategy Board, would result in new products containing ingredients from plants that currently have little use within the food industry.

The three-year study will also attempt to identify older and more nutritious varieties of mangoes and tea.

Dr Mark Berry, based at Unilever's research and development laboratories in Bedford who is leading the consortium, said: "The plants we eat today like fruits and vegetables have often been bred and selected on their weight-based yield per acre of land, and not necessarily on the nutrient content of the produce.

"This research looks to turn this approach on its head. Perhaps a better strategy for human health, not to mention sustainable agriculture, would be to buy plants not based on their weight, but on their nutrient content.

"It's fascinating to contemplate that these pre-domesticated varieties have remained relatively unchanged for thousands of years. We'll be going back in time to identify the plants from yesteryear that our ancient ancestors would have eaten, with a view to potentially reintroducing them into our diet."

Professor Monique Simmonds from Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, said: "This project provides us with an exciting opportunity to investigate, with scientists at Cranfield University and Unilever, the chemistry of under-utilised plants and older varieties of some of our favourite fruits.

"It enables us to increase our knowledge about the diversity of phytochemicals in these plants and whether their diversity has decreased during domestication. In an age when we are losing so much of our biodiversity due to changes in land use we can also evaluate the loss in phytochemical diversity that could have a negative impact on our health."

Professor Leon Terry from Cranfield University added: "The new project brings together the expertise of three internationally recognised UK-based organisations with the collective view that a paradigm shift is required whereby ingredients are selected on their health-promoting properties.

"Although fruit and vegetable-based products like smoothies are widely available, few contain the benefits of naturally high health-promoting phytochemical content from older cultivars. This is because the varietal selection of fruit and vegetables supplied by the fresh produce industry today has been increasingly centred on their products' price, size, visual appearance, storage potential and yield."

PA

News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
News
people Emma Watson addresses celebrity nude photo leak
News
Katie Hopkins appearing on 'This Morning' after she purposefully put on 4 stone.
peopleKatie Hopkins breaks down in tears over weight gain challenge
Sport
Alexis Sanchez, Radamel Falcao, Diego Costa and Mario Balotelli
football
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Sport
Danny Welbeck's Manchester United future is in doubt
footballGunners confirm signing from Manchester United
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman topped the list of the 30 most influential females in broadcasting
tv
Life and Style
techIf those brochure kitchens look a little too perfect to be true, well, that’s probably because they are
News
Kelly Brook
peopleA spokesperson said the support group was 'extremely disappointed'
Sport
Andy Murray celebrates a shot while playing Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
TennisWin sets up blockbuster US Open quarter-final against Djokovic
Arts and Entertainment
Hare’s a riddle: Kit Williams with the treasure linked to Masquerade
booksRiddling trilogy could net you $3m
Arts and Entertainment
Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand performs live
music Pro-independence show to take place four days before vote
News
news Video - hailed as 'most original' since Benedict Cumberbatch's
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    SAP Assessor

    £26000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: SAP Assessor Job T...

    Year 6 Teacher needed for 1 Term- Worthing!

    £100 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Crawley: Year 6 larger then life teach...

    SEN Teacher

    Negotiable: Randstad Education Plymouth: SEN Jobs Available Devon

    Infrastructure Lead, (Trading, VCE, Converged, Hyper V)

    £600 - £900 per day: Harrington Starr: Infrastructure Lead, (Trading infrastru...

    Day In a Page

    'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

    'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

    US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
    Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

    A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

    Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
    Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

    James Frey's literary treasure hunt

    Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
    Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

    Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

    What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
    Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

    Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

    Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
    Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

    The big names to look for this fashion week

    This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
    Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

    'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

    Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
    Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

    Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

    Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
    Al Pacino wows Venice

    Al Pacino wows Venice

    Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
    Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

    Neil Lawson Baker interview

    ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
    The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

    The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

    Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
    The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

    The model for a gadget launch

    Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
    Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

    She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

    Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
    Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

    Get well soon, Joan Rivers

    She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
    Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

    A fresh take on an old foe

    Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering