Irish Fruit and Vegetables

Some fruits and vegetables commonly grown and consumed in Ireland contain phytochemicals in amounts which could have a beneficial effect on human health.
In this context, the Irish Phytochemical Network is concentrating it's efforts on three main Irish grown crops. These crops were selected for the following reasons:

1. Socio-economic relevance in Ireland:

According to data from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO, www.fao.org), members of the (a) Brassicaceae family e.g., cabbages, cauliflowers, broccoli (b) Apicaceae e.g., carrots and parsnips and (c) Allium family are, after potato, the main crops produced in Ireland (see Figure 1).

Brassicas with a production around 100,000 tons/year are situated at the top of the production ranking in Ireland, followed by carrots with a production of above 20,000 tons/year and finally onions with an annual production of around 10,000 tons/year (see Figure 1).

Production Quantity (Tons)Figure 1: Production Quantity (Tons) of Brassicas, Carrots and turnips and Onions produced in Ireland since 1998 to present (Data source: FAOSTAT, online database of the statistics division of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations: http://faostat.fao.org ). 

Figure 1: Production Quantity (Tons) of Brassicas, Carrots and turnips and Onions produced in Ireland since 1998 to present (Data source: FAOSTAT, online database of the statistics division of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations: http://faostat.fao.org ).

However, the importance of these vegetables to the Irish horticulture sector is not the only reason for this selection They are also good sources of three important phytochemical groups, as detailed below.

2. Representatives of main phytochemicals:

Table 1 below lists the main phytochemical group present in each of the vegetable groups to be studied:

Table 1
Vegetable groupPhytochemical group
Carrots and Parsnips (Apiaceae)Polyacetylenes (PA)
Onions (Allium)Polyphenols (PPhs)
Broccoli and Cabbages (Brassicacea)Glucosinolates (GLS) and Isothyocyanates


All three vegetable groups have been cultivated and consumed in Europe since early times. Onion has been used for medicinal purposes such as to heal blisters and boils. The origin and uses of each of the vegetable groups are described in the following paragraphs.

 

Carrots and Parsnips

 

Onions and other alliums

 

Broccoli and other brassicaceae

 

References

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  2. Clapham, A. R.; Tutin, T. G.; Warburg, E. F., Flora of the British Isles. 3rd ed.; University Press, Cambridge: London, 1958; p 1592.
  3. Surles, R. L.; Weng, N.; Simon, P. W.; Sherry, A. T. T., Carotenoid profiles and consumer sensory evaluation of specialty carrots (Daucus carota, L.) of various colors. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 2004, 52, (11), 3417-3421.
  4. Simon, P. W., Plant pigments for color and nutrition. Hortscience 1997, 32, (1), 12-13.
  5. Metzger, B. T.; Barnes, D. M.; Reed, J. D., Purple carrot (Daucus carota L.) polyacetylenes decrease lipopolysaccharide-induced expression of inflammatory proteins in macrophage and endothelial cells. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 2008, 56, (10), 3554-3560.
  6. Schnabele, K.; Briviba, K.; Bub, A.; Roserl, S.; Pool-Zobel, B. L.; Rechkemmer, G., Effects of carrot and tomato juice consumption on faecal markers relevant to colon carcinogenesis in humans. British Journal of Nutrition 2008, 99, (3), 606-613.
  7. Oyen, L. P. A., Pastinaca sativa L. [Internet] Record from Protabase. In Grubben, G.J.H. & Denton, O.A. (Editors): 2004.
  8. Messiaen, C.-M.; Rouamba, A., Allium cepa L. [Internet] Record from Protabase. . In Grubben, G.J.H. & Denton, O.A. (Editors): 2004.
  9. Lanzotti, V., The analysis of onion and garlic. Journal of Chromatography A 2006, 1112, (1-2), 3-22.
  10. Desjardins, Y., Onion as a Nutraceutical and Functional Food. Chronica Horticulturae 2008, 48, (2), 8 - 14.
  11. Galeone, C.; Pelucchi, C.; Levi, F.; Negri, E.; Franceschi, S.; Talamini, R.; Giacosa, A.; La Vecchia, C., Onion and garlic use and human cancer. Am J Clin Nutr 2006, 84, (5), 1027-1032.
  12. Tjeertes, P., Brassica oleracea L. (cauliflower and broccoli) [Internet] Record from Protabase. . In Grubben, G.J.H. & Denton, O.A. (Editors): 2004.