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Br J Nutr. 2002 Dec;88(6):615-23.

Effect of acute ingestion of fresh and stored lettuce (Lactuca sativa) on plasma total antioxidant capacity and antioxidant levels in human subjects.

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Antioxidant Research Laboratory at the Unit of Human Nutrition, Istituto Nazionale di Ricerca per gli Alimenti e la Nutrizione (INRAN), Rome, Italy.


The present study investigated whether storage under modified-atmosphere packaging (MAP) affected the antioxidant properties of fresh lettuce (Lactuca sativa). Eleven healthy volunteers (six men, five women) consumed 250 g fresh lettuce, and blood was sampled before (0 h) and 2, 3 and 6 h after consumption. The protocol was repeated 3 d later with the same lettuce stored at 5 degrees C under MAP conditions (O2-N2 (5:95, v/v)). Results showed that after ingestion of fresh lettuce, plasma total radical-trapping antioxidant potential (TRAP), measured as area under the curve, was significantly higher (1.3 (sem 0.3) mmol/l per 6 h; P<0.05) than the value obtained with MAP-stored lettuce (0.1 (sem 0.2) mmol/l per 6 h). Plasma TRAP, quercetin and p-coumaric acid were significantly different from baseline values (P<or=0.05) 2 and 3 h after fresh lettuce ingestion. Caffeic acid increased significantly at 3 h (P<0.05). Plasma beta-carotene levels increased significantly at 6 h (P<0.05). Vitamin C concentrations (mg/l) rose from 10.9 (sem 2.0) to 12.7 (sem 3.0) (P<0.001), 12.7 (sem 2.0) (P<0.01) and 12.9 (sem 3.0) (P<0.05) at 0, 2, 3 and 6 h respectively. No changes were observed after ingestion of MAP-stored lettuce for all the measured markers. Our present results showed that ingestion of MAP-stored lettuce does not modify plasma redox status in healthy subjects. Further research is needed to develop post-harvesting techniques able to preserve the bioactive molecule content of plant food.

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