Russian scientists first analyzed the composition of modern vegetables in order to cultivate the most promising of them.
More than 500 varieties of vegetables were studied by specialists from the Federal Scientific Center for Vegetable Production and RUDN University. Most of all, scientists were interested in the content of special substances that, by and large, make plants useful. We are talking about phenolic compounds, which are most often called antioxidants. It is they who resist cardiovascular and neurological diseases, strengthen immunity, and most importantly - inhibit the aging of individual cells and the whole organism.
“Before us, no one had done such work, so we did not know how many phenolic compounds are contained in modern vegetable products,” said Professor Murat Gins, head of the laboratory of introduction, physiology and biochemistry of the Federal State Budgetary Scientific Institution of the Federal Research Center of Vegetable Growing. “Our goal was to classify vegetables in order to create functional food products later, as well as select plants for breeding based on their biochemical characteristics.
The fact that phenolic compounds were studied was not accidental. If in the last century the main criterion of usefulness was the presence of vitamin C, today the concept has changed: scientists have proved that vitamin C itself does not work, just to make it “more active” require substances from this group.
In addition to traditional zucchini, pumpkin, onion and potato, scientists have also studied cultures with names unfamiliar to the general public, for example, forged-horned melon, momordica - winding grass vine of the pumpkin family, asparagus haricot and Beninkazu wax melon. Scientists are sure that the vegetables traditional for our table from the point of view of a set of microelements, for a number of reasons, are becoming less and less useful, so you need to pay attention to the “new items”. They presented the results of their work at the International Conference "New and Alternative Plants and the Prospects for Their Use", which recently took place in Sochi.
Inside the vegetable
On the ground floor of the Federal Scientific Center for Vegetable Growing, the school cafeteria smells sad, but on the second floor there is a cozy sweetish fruit and vegetable aroma - laboratories where scientists analyze the composition of vegetables are located here.
The standard chemical composition and the percentage of vitamins, trace elements and other biologically active substances in vegetables is known. In the documents, this kit was even painted for each variety grown on the territory of the Russian Federation and imported (when exotic tropical fruits poured into Russia in the early 90s, employees of the Research Institute of Nutrition did an analysis of each new product). But in practice, the fruits in their composition can be very different from the norm.
Scientists separately extract dietary fiber from vegetables, weigh them and dry them for research. Measure the amount of moisture and sugar. The presence of vitamins and micronutrients is determined by high-tech liquid chromatography. The essence of the method is quite original: the “extract” from the vegetable is dissolved in water, then applied to a kind of “blotter” and the composition of the diverging circles is analyzed. In this case, the substance is divided into layers - various components that interact differently with the sorbent. Scientists need to calculate the number of components required, concentrated in a separate layer.
Now there are more expensive and more advanced chromatography methods that allow you to determine very low concentrations of substances with very high accuracy. But in order to determine the amount of antioxidants in vegetables, Professor Gins used simple paper chromatography.
“A modern chromatograph works according to the Big Data principle (it processes a huge amount of information. -“ O ”) and gives out all the data that it captures as a result,” explains Murat Sabirovich. “As a result, we would have to spend a lot of effort to organize this data. We did not need such details. Therefore, we divided all phenolic compounds into 4 groups depending on the effect on the body and determined the concentration of substances in each variety using classical equipment.
If we compare the effect of antioxidants in the leaves of plants and their tubers, leafy vegetables, as a rule, contain substances that strengthen blood vessels and overall immunity, and root crops accumulate special polymer phenolic compounds that are involved in cell construction and body regeneration.
It turned out that leafy vegetables contain most of the most useful substances from a health point of view, and some of them are not cultivated in Russia.
The absolute champion, who collected the maximum amount of antioxidants from all groups at once, was narrow-leaved chrysanthemum (we do not have it, but in Southeast Asia, China, Vietnam, and especially in Japan, they just go crazy with it). Fruits lose much to leafy plants, but among them there are also champions in the number of antioxidants. The three leaders include onions, tomatoes and bell peppers.
Most of all, however, researchers are not inspired by well-known products, but by new ones (for most of our consumers), with which they have particular hopes. What are you talking about?
"Fox tail" and not only
We pass into the treasury of the Scientific Center for Vegetable Production - a large room with endless tables covered with newspapers. They are sheltered by a scattering of huge purple panicles. The panicles are home-smelling of dried flowers and a little beetroot, countless beads of black shiny seeds are strewed from them onto newspapers. This is amaranth, or, simply, the "fox tail."
Amaranth is the pride of Professor Gins. From the leaves of this plant, the Institute’s specialists for the first time created a dietary supplement in the form of a herbal tea. This tea is just a storehouse of antioxidants. Dehydroquercetin, quercetin, amaranthine, and other biologically active substances contained in the amaranth herbal tea help strengthen the immune system and increase visual acuity. And herbal tea works as a prebiotic, stimulating the growth of beneficial bacteria in the intestine.
“We became interested in amaranth back in the 90s, when the problem of natural food coloring arose,” says Murat Gins. “Previously, it was obtained from beetroot, but it was too expensive. They developed a dye technology from amaranth leaf biomass, and when they began to study its properties, it turned out to be very interesting.
Together with the Institute of Microbiology. Gabrichevsky scientists studied the effect of amaranth on the growth of bifidobacteria and lactobacilli. It turned out that in the presence of the fox-tail extract, the growth of beneficial bacteria increased up to 1000 times.
At the Research Institute for the Search for New Antibiotics named after Gouse vegetable growers tested the anti-cancer properties of amaranth on mice.
It turned out that with the help of an amaranth extract, the effect of a standard drug on an inoculated tumor increases from 60 to 98 percent. Scientists tested the new herbal tea on children and adults with dysbiosis - and here amaranth did not disappoint. The 4th degree of dysbiosis was transformed into the 3rd, the 3rd - into the 2nd and so on. According to the program of the Ministry of Health of the Moscow Region, amaranth was tested on schoolchildren. Parents of participants in the test noted that children became less likely to get colds.
“Amaranth is a complex product,” explains Professor Gins. “For example, the oil that is obtained from amaranth seeds contains a lot of squalene - a substance that is currently experiencing a boom in popularity. The Japanese, obsessed with radio and cancer protection, found it in the liver of deep-sea sharks and hunted for poor fish for a long time, until it turned out that amaranth was much richer in this unique substance than sharks. Squalene fights cancer cells, maintains immunity, regulates hormone production, and maintains youth. And it was amaranth seeds that turned out to be the champions in the content of squalene. Well, the amaranth leaf is a champion in phenolic compounds.
Another non-traditional plant, which scientists of the Federal State Budget Scientific Institution of Vegetable Research Federal Center relies on, turned out to be a yakon - a Jerusalem artichoke-like vegetable with sweet crispy roots.
The motherland of the yakon is the Andes, but when experts found out that the plant is unpretentious and can live in other climatic zones, it began to be grown in the suburbs. In the greenhouses of the institute’s economy, shoots of an icon as tall as a good basketball player stretch huge gullible leaves to the sun.
- You can’t take pictures! - greenhouse workers who guard the new agricultural technologies are strictly warning.
PFUR biologists brought in these greenhouses and included in the State Register of the Russian Federation a new variety of yacon with a high content of phenolic compounds. The root tubers of the yakon are rich in inulin - an organic substance with a sweet taste, which is used in pharmaceuticals as a sweetener. Using the biochemical parameters of the icon, scientists have developed a line of products for diabetics, including mashed potatoes from its tubers. Yakon can also be used in sourdough as an additional source of carbohydrates: if yakon puree is used at the stage of sourdough preparation in the production of bread from a mixture of rye and wheat flour, then the taste, smell, and nutritional value of finished flour products are significantly improved.
Foam rubber for lunch
Products that Russian scientists are trying to develop are called functional. These are especially useful products that can increase the body's resistance to diseases, improve physiological processes. They are especially popular in Japan, where at the end of the 80s of the last century the concept of a healthy diet was formulated at the state level. Now our Ministry of Health is trying to introduce similar concepts.
Such initiatives appear in response to objective circumstances: modern vegetables in their absolute majority lose not only taste, but also nutritious. And nostalgia for the old days, when the foliage was greener, and the water is sweeter, is not always illusory.
A few years ago, the US Department of Agriculture published data that over the past half century, the content of a number of useful substances has been critically reduced in vegetables and fruits. So, the amount of calcium in kale, previously considered the main source of this element, was reduced by 85 percent. The magnesium content in parsley and dill decreased by more than 30 percent. The amount of iron in general in vegetables decreased by 27 percent, phosphorus - by 14 percent. The same thing happened with the vitamin content: the amount of vitamin B2 decreased by 38 percent, and vitamin C by 20 percent.
A low concentration of physiologically active substances, in turn, deprives products of both usefulness and a pleasant pronounced taste. One of the reasons for such dramatic changes, scientists call pesticides that have been used in agriculture for decades.
“Physiologically active substances useful for our nutrition are formed in fruits in the presence of enzymes,” explains Amiran Zanilov, head of the Department of Transfer of Innovative Technologies in the agro-industrial complex of the Federal Center for Agricultural Consulting under the Ministry of Agriculture of the Russian Federation. that determine the benefits of the product - antioxidants. The activity of an enzymatic reaction, or its speed, can be up to a thousand reactions per second! And pesticides from the very beginning suppress the enzymatic activity of the system. Either the pesticide acts directly and the enzyme is "distracted" from its direct responsibilities and, instead of producing antioxidants, reacts with pesticides, that is, it works to remove them from the fetus, or it acts indirectly: pesticides suppress the activity of soil microflora. For example, fungicide bi-58 or other organochlorine and organophosphorus compounds, a few days after entering the soil, reduce the activity of some enzymes up to 2,5 times, and some groups of microorganisms up to 4 times.
Nature itself struggles with pesticides. Their decomposition and excretion occurs both in the soil and inside the fetal cell. Intracellular decomposition is even more active. This means that theoretically, from a chemically treated plant, you can get a clean crop. But at the same time it will be deprived of a bright taste - because instead of producing antioxidants, the enzymes detoxified pesticides. The result is safe and ... useless vegetables and fruits, "foam" taste.
Murat Gins from the FSBI Federal Research Center for Vegetable Production has his own point of view on this score.
“Now many people think that refusing fertilizers is enough to assume that we have switched to organic farming,” says Professor Gins. “But chemical fertilizers are not applied to the soil in all regions, but only to more or less wealthy ones: Krasnodar Territory, Rostov, Lipetsk, Belgorod regions, in Altai. Of course, technogenic pollution of the soil can be a big problem, but for us it is not as relevant as, for example, for China. There is another general problem. According to environmentalists, there is more carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere. On the one hand, it is useful for plants, they grow faster. But the total biomass is gaining, and micronutrients remain the same amount. The effect of dilution is obtained.
Maybe this is the case?
Another component of the deterioration in the quality of the fruit is, oddly enough, selection. According to scientists, breeding selection is going to increase efficiency, that is, high productivity. So, the content of biologically active substances in agricultural products is not taken into account in any way, volumes are more important.
The shadow side of the apple tree
According to scientists, if you take an apple from the same apple tree from the sunny and the shadow side, the amount of vitamins and other biologically active substances in these fruits will be different. Biological components vary even within the same area, so what about fruits from different climatic zones. It turns out that in some cases, fruits grown in the suburbs may be more valuable than those grown in sunny Italy.
“The genomes of plants are larger than the genomes of animals,” says Professor Murat Gins of the Vegetable Research Institute. “The variety of plant substances is higher than animals, because animals are mobile, and the plant cannot escape or hide from external factors. He has to protect himself on the spot from wind, rain, and temperature differences. When a plant experiences a stressful situation, it begins the synthesis of ascorbic acid, which increases the stability of the body. Agronomists use this ability as a powerful technological method for enriching plants — greenhouses open, ventilate, and cool. The more diverse the growing conditions, the greater the biochemical spectrum of substances should be synthesized in the plant. Therefore, southern tomatoes, for example, are sweeter, they accumulate more carbohydrates, and ours, grown in the middle lane, are more acidic, but they contain more biologically active substances.
“There is basic knowledge, for example, that meat food has a building and energy function, and vegetable food has a healing and regulatory function,” explains Murat Gins. “But vegetable food is very diverse. Even the composition of the same fruit changes as it ripens. And different varieties can differ greatly in their properties. Here the West eats a lot of broccoli and almost does not eat white cabbage. Because the Mediterranean varieties of cabbage (the same broccoli and Brussels sprouts) are flowering, they are all green, which means they contain phenolic compounds, antioxidants. The usual white cabbage for us consists mainly of isolated white leaves. They contain a lot of dietary fiber and ferment well, being a feed for our microbiome - intestinal microflora, which produces the vitamins and minerals we need. Different types of cabbage have different functions, but not everyone knows about it.
Meanwhile, it is precisely such special knowledge that everyone needs. Moreover, they allow the development of a new science - food combinatorics, which selects products for a particular person. In the near future, scientists are sure, we will create an individual diet for ourselves, which will have nothing to do with modern limiting diets such as "do not eat after six."
- The formation of a diet is not a matter of preference for nutritionists, - says Vladimir Bessonov, Doctor of Biological Sciences from the Federal Research Center for Nutrition and Biotechnology. - You can correctly form such a diet, which will include even beer or even a piece of bacon, they will simply be compensated through others products. Diet is not a limitation, it is a harmonious production of biologically active substances. And this is due not so much to the choice of a nutritionist as to the preferences of the person himself. The fact is that if we come up with a diet that contradicts a person's eating habits, then he will not follow it. Therefore, the task is to adjust eating habits taking into account new knowledge and find functional foods containing a large amount of substances necessary for a particular person. And so that it is not only healthy, but also tasty ...
Pharmacy from the garden
Scientists divided the vegetables into four groups according to which nutrients are most clearly represented in them. Here are the winners in each of these “nominations”
Edible chrysanthemum, amaranth, petiole celery
This group contains hydroxycinnamic acids and their esters. Such compounds are able to start the work of whole cascades of genes that protect the body from exposure to harmful substances, and also inhibits the aging process.
Broccoli, Chinese cabbage, watercress
In the vegetables of this group there are simple phenolic compounds and hydroxybenzoic acids. All of these substances stimulate plant growth. On their basis, a whole group of tannins is produced, which in the human body impede the processes of cell death.
Vegetable species of amaranth, mint, lemon balm
The composition of these plants includes a large number of flavonoids - universal substances that stimulate the body. They protect cells from the action of reactive oxygen species and free radicals, participate in metabolic processes, and help absorb vitamins.
Inflorescences of broccoli, edible chrysanthemum
They contain the so-called condensed and polymeric phenolic compounds. Perform a building function in the cells, that is, they are indispensable assistants in the regeneration of the body.
The best of the best
Vegetables that are available to Russians every day also contain antioxidants that are beneficial to the body. Introducing the top five
- Purple onions are a sweet and bright onion cousin of the familiar onion. The highest concentration of nutrients is concentrated in the uppermost layer of the onion, just below the husk.
Contains anthocyanins - antioxidants that prevent the development of diabetes, cancer and diseases of the nervous system. They resist infections and slow down the aging process.
Onions also contain flavonoid quercetin - this antioxidant has anti-allergenic and diuretic properties, has anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, anti-tumor and radioprotective effects.
- Broccoli is the least favorite vegetable among primary school children. Nevertheless, its beneficial properties make it one of the most important products of our time. Broccoli contains sulforaphane, an active anti-cancer organic compound.
The World Cancer Foundation has found that this cabbage is effective in the prevention and control of cancer of the esophagus, stomach, lungs, skin and genitourinary system.
And vitamin C in broccoli is 2 times more than in citrus fruits. Recall that this vitamin is the strongest antioxidant that strengthens the immune system, ensures the normal functioning of connective and bone tissue, as well as the elasticity of blood vessels.
- Bell pepper contains a large amount of vitamins B, PP, E and especially vitamin C. There is so much of it that fresh 30-60 grams of this vegetable is enough to satisfy the body's daily requirement. Pepper also contains many trace elements and, interestingly, the natural antibiotic capsicidin (it inhibits the growth of microbes and fungal microflora in the body, improves digestion).
The high content of fiber, pectin, glucose, fructose, iron, magnesium and copper, bioflavonoids and vitamin C has a beneficial effect on the elasticity of blood vessels.
- Carrots, which almost everyone loves, is rich in carotene, which promotes the formation of new cells and blood formation, fights infections, strengthens the skin, bones and teeth, improves eyesight. Carotene is also needed by the kidneys, bladder and lungs.
Of the antioxidants, carrots contain vitamin C, which strengthens the walls of blood vessels and improves complexion.
In addition to it, vitamin E contained in carrots has a beneficial effect on the skin - it promotes the regeneration of the surface layers of the skin and increases muscle elasticity. The most useful part of the root crop is closer to the skin.
- Tomato is another vegetable that everyone loves. It contains vitamin C, the antioxidant rutin, which protects against ultraviolet radiation, B vitamins, folic acid, and many minerals. In addition, tomatoes contain a lot of immunostimulant and antioxidant carotene. Organic acids contained in tomato improve digestion and suppress pathogenic microflora. And thanks to the antioxidant lycopene, regular consumption of tomatoes reduces the likelihood of heart disease by 26 percent.
A source: https://kvedomosti.ru/