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A bumper crop with high marks for health benefits

Media release
01.03.09

A bumper crop with high marks for health benefits

Feijoa growers are expecting a very high quality crop of fruit in near optimum condition as a result of the very warm summer. Feijoas are expected to be on sale by mid-March and available until early June this year.

Hot, dry weather is ideal for the production of a high quality crop and fruit quality for the season is looking very good, says the president of the New Zealand Feijoa Growers Association, Tim Harper. But it’s the world leading growing systems used by professional growers that will have played a key role in ensuring large, good quality fruit, he says and New Zealanders can’t necessarily expect to get comparable feijoas from the trees in their own back yards as a result of the warmer summer.

Not only is a good crop expected but the feijoa has been scoring very well in the analysis of its health benefits. In the growing trend for scientifc research to demonstrate that eating fruits can reduce the incidence of chronic diseases including cancers, heart disease and stroke - the feijoa has given promising results. In recent years research teams around the world have found extracts from the fruit to contain comparatively high levels of the compounds that enhance anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant activity.

In one measure of antioxidant activity, the Horticulture and Food Research Institute of New Zealand (HortResearch) ranked feijoas just over mid-way in comparision with other popular fruit, confirming the potential for the fruit as a functional food ingredient.

The antioxidant actitity of the fruit is based on their relatively high content of compounds known as proanthocynanins – a class of polyphenolics that are widely promoted for their health enhancing properties. The proanthocyanins have also been reported to reduce inflammation.

Based on their trials to date, scientific researchers agree there is evidence to support the use of proanthocyanin-based foods and dietary supplements as effective antio-xidants. Although a high concentration of this compound usually makes for a bitter and astringent taste, it’s fortunate that they don’t impact on the flavour of feijoas.

Feijoas also have high levels of Vitamin C, and are high in minerals and fibre. Since an average feijoa contains around 9mg of vitamin C, just three a day will provide over half the recommended daily intake of vitamin C.

Although intensive research into this fruit is relatively recent says, Tim Harper from the growers association, the feijoa can justify its position as one of the healthiest fruits readily available to all New Zealanders. He says confirmation of more good news on the benefits of the fruit and its extracts is expected to emerge soon from ongoing research.

ENDS

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