Postharvest Wounding Stress in Horticultural Crops as a Tool for Designing Novel Functional Foods and Beverages with Enhanced Nutraceutical Content: Carrot Juice as a Case Study.
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Phenolic compounds have potential to prevent and treat chronic degenerative diseases (CDDs). A phenolic-rich carrot juice was produced by the application of wounding stress. The effects of wounding intensity, storage, peeling, blanching, filtration, and pasteurization over physicochemical, nutritional, nutraceutical, and sensory properties of carrot juice were evaluated. Juices from unpeeled carrots had 7% to 40% more minerals, 0.46 to 1.6 less Brix, and 1.16 more titratable acidity. The carrot juice with the highest phenolic content was obtained by cutting unpeeled carrots into slices, storing them (48 hr, 15 C), and blanching them thereafter (80 C, 6 min; stressed unpeeled carrot juice, SUCJ). SUCJ had 3,600% more chlorogenic acid, 195% more total phenolics, and similar carotenoid content than conventional carrot juice. Sensory evaluation of SUCJ was acceptable and willingness to pay increased by providing information about health benefits. SUCJ has potential as a functional beverage that could aid in the prevention and treatment of CDDs. PRACTICAL APPLICATION: Consumers are increasingly demanding foods and beverages that are healthier, natural, safe, and GMO-free. Abiotic stresses can enhance greatly the nutraceutical content of crops without the need of genetic engineering or dangerous chemicals. These crops could be used as raw materials to produce foods and beverages of higher nutraceutical quality. An easy-to-control abiotic stress is wounding stress, which consists of mechanically damaging the plant tissue (for example, cutting). We applied wounding stress to carrot to produce a phenolic-rich carrot juice. This juice could aid in the prevention or treatment of chronic degenerative diseases.