Sleep Hormone Could Help Preserve Freshness Of Fruits And Vegetables, Study Shows

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Melatonin, known as “the sleep hormone,” is naturally produced by our brains in response to darkness, signaling our body to rest. Surprisingly, Edith Cowan University scientists have discovered that melatonin could help in preserving the freshness of vegetables and fruits.

Scientist discover safe way to preserve fruits and vegetables

The recent study by horticultural scientists at ECU has shown that melatonin can effectively reduce chilling injury in fresh horticultural products, such as vegetables and fruits. The researchers collected global data over the past year to explore the benefits of applying melatonin to perishable foods, aiming to extend their freshness.

According to Professor Zora Singh, the lead researcher, a significant portion, approximately 44 percent, of newly harvested horticultural goods is lost during the journey from the farm to consumption due to a prevalent factor known as “chilling injury.”

Singh explains that chilling injury is a commonly observed phenomenon in cold-stored fruits and vegetables. It manifests as unusual ripening, pitting, sunken spots, flesh hardening, and peel and pulp browning in fruits. In vegetables, chilling injury is characterized by tissue browning, translucency, and the formation of water-soaked lesions. It is important to note that the temperature for storage of subtropical vegetables and fruits ranges between 40C and 80C with the optimum temperature required to avoid chilling injury being 100C-200C.

Melatonin an option for reducing impact of chilling injury

Notably, researchers affirms that the majority of the evidence suggests melatonin stands as one of the most effective methods available for mitigating or lessening the impact of chilling injury on fruits and vegetables stored in cold conditions.

According to PHD student and researcher, Shoaib Shah, melatonin exhibits advantageous effects in mitigating symptoms of chilling injury and membrane leakage by sustaining elevated antioxidant levels and preserving the overall freshness of horticultural products.

Therefore, melatonin is considered a safe option to hazardous chemicals and it doesn’t have any adverse impact on consumer health. With food waste considered a global problem where chilling injury is the main contributor to waster, melatonin could prove to be useful in food preservation.

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