With the constant stream of media reports regarding the role of vitamins and other nutrients in a healthy diet, consumers are looking for vegetables that pack the maximum nutritional value. Different cultivars of crops like broccoli and spinach show a huge range in their nutrient content. Improved nutrient content has emerged as one of the prime objectives of many vegetable crop breeding programs. Breeders in Texas have developed purple and yellow fleshed potatoes with 30 times the antioxidant value of normal white fleshed varieties. The new seedless types of watermelon tend to have redder flesh and a higher lycopene content that traditional types. Lycopene is another important anti-oxidant. Some of the management practices employed by growers can also have a significant impact on the nutritional value of their product. Fall planted spinach has higher levels of beneficial anti-oxidants and vitamins than a spring planted crop … but the fall seeded crops also tends to have higher leaf nitrate levels which can be detrimental to the consumer. Low light levels due to cloudy weather or shading by weeds increases the water content of leafy greens while reducing their Vitamin C content.
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