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J Agric Food Chem. 2002 Sep 11;50(19):5458-62.

Modulation of antioxidant compounds in organic vs conventional fruit (peach, Prunus persica L., and pear, Pyrus communis L.).

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Istituto Nazionale di Ricerca per gli Alimenti e la Nutrizione, Via Ardeatina 546, 00178 Roma, Italy.


Despite the increasing interest in organic products, knowledge about how different levels of fertilization affect nutritionally relevant components is still limited. The concentration of polyphenols and the activity of polyphenoloxidase (PPO), together with the content in ascorbic acid, citric acid, and alpha- and gamma-tocopherol, were assayed in conventional and organic peach (Prunus persica L., cv. Regina bianca) and pear (Pyrus communis L., cv. Williams). 2-Thiobarbituric acid reactive substances and the tocopherolquinone/alpha-tocopherol ratio were used as markers of oxidative damage in fruits. A parallel increase in polyphenol content and PPO activity of organic peach and pear as compared with the corresponding conventional samples was found. Ascorbic and citric acids were higher in organic than conventional peaches, whereas alpha-tocopherol was increased in organic pear. The concentration of oxidation products in organic samples of both fruits was comparable to that of the corresponding conventional ones. These data provide evidence that an improvement in the antioxidant defense system of the plant occurred as a consequence of the organic cultivation practice. This is likely to exert protection against damage of fruit when grown in the absence of pesticides.

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