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Effects of environmental stress on ascorbic acid content in baby leaf spinach (Spinacia oleracea)

Mogren, L., Reade, J., Monaghan, J.
Acta horticulturae 2012 no.939 pp. 205-208
Spinacia oleracea, antioxidants, ascorbic acid, dehydroascorbic acid, harvesting, heat, human nutrition, leaves, oranges, oxidative stress, reactive oxygen species, senescence, shelf life, spinach, temperature, thermal stress
Baby leaf spinach (Spinacia oleracea) has naturally high levels of vitamin C, or ascorbic acid (AA). The vitamin C content in spinach and oranges are comparable, so a further increase in spinach could potentially befit to human nutrition. In plants, AA is one of the main antioxidants thought to be involved in the cellular defense against reactive oxygen species occurring during senescence processes. This means that a higher level of AA at harvest may prolong the shelf life of this perishable vegetable commodity. Temperature has been shown to be one of the factors that affect the AA synthesis in plants. This project focused on heat and cold treatment of spinach leaves just prior to harvest. Both types of thermal stress resulted in small but significant increases in AA levels on a dry weight basis. No signs of increased oxidative stress, as measured by the almost unaffected levels of the oxidized form dehydroascorbic acid (DHA), due to the temperature treatments were found. In conclusion, temperature stress prior to harvest may be beneficial both for baby leaf spinach shelf life and human nutrition.