Is superfood broccoli an essential part of your diet? Now learn how to preserve it for longer periods for enhanced anti-cancer properties. Researchers at University of Illinois have found a way to prolong the vegetable's shelf life. The method is a natural and inexpensive way to produce broccoli that won't spoil so quickly on your refrigerator shelf. "We figured out how to increase the anti-cancer activity in broccoli. The idea is to get it from the farm to the grocery store within two to three days," said Jack Juvik, a crop sciences researcher at University of Illinois. Juvik explained that the combined application of two compounds - natural products extracted from plants - increased the presence of cancer-fighting agents in broccoli while prolonging the post-harvest storage period.
The researchers first used methyl jasmonate (MeJA), a non-toxic compound to increase the broccoli's anti-cancer potential. MeJA initiates a process of gene activity affiliated with the biosynthesis of glucosinolates (GS) which are identified as potent cancer-preventative agents. However, MeJA also signals a network of genes that lead to plant decay by inducing the release of ethylene. The researchers then applied compound 1-methylcyclopropene (1-MCP) after harvesting the same broccoli that was treated with MeJA before harvest. "This compound basically stops or dramatically slows down the decay associated with ethylene. The combination is good," informed Juvik. "It is very cheap. It takes very little to elevate all the desirable aspects. The compound is volatile and disappears from the product after about 10 hours," he said. The use of these treatments could make a great impact on important global dilemmas such as food security issues and health-care costs.