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Post-harvest studies for optimizing functional properties of yacon (Smallanthus sonchifolius)

Grant number: 18/15150-1
Support type:Research Grants - Innovative Research in Small Business - PIPE
Duration: March 01, 2019 - December 31, 2019
Field of knowledge:Agronomical Sciences - Agronomy
Principal Investigator:Rita Maria Borges de Moraes
Grantee:Rita Maria Borges de Moraes
Company:Santa Martha Jardins Ltda. - ME
CNAE: Horticultura
Produção de mudas e outras formas de propagação vegetal, certificadas
Produção florestal - florestas nativas
City: Ribeirão Preto
Co-Principal Investigators:Miriam Verginia Lourenço
Associated scholarship(s):19/06224-4 - Post-harvest studies for optimizing of the functional properties of yacon (Smalanthus sonchifolus), BP.TT


Yacon (Smallanthus sonchifolius) is a native species to the Andean region of South America that has attracted worldwide attention because of its beneficial health properties. Yacon produces sweet-tasting, crisp tuberous roots that has an apple -like taste. The roots of yacon are a rich source of inulin and fructooligosaccharides (FOS), which are not metabolized by the human digestive system, thus presenting low caloric value. Moreover, because yacon contains FOS, it is beneficial to the bacteria living in the intestinal system including lactobacilli and bifidobacteria, both of which promote good digestion as dietary fibers while keeping a healthy colon. The low caloric index, the health benefits and the sweetening potential of yacon roots have prompted worldwide attention and market advantages for its processed foods such as flour and juice. The low caloric index relates to the water content present in the roots -80% of the root's fresh weight is water. Handling and storing roots with such high water content in non-refrigerated condition after harvest, it reduces shelf life in a7 day's period. Yield and loss of consistency after harvest is a key challenge to the further development of yacon's roots as a functional food. While information exists elsewhere on good agriculture practices on yacon, there are few studies investigating harvest timing, postharvest handling, and storing to optimize yields and constancy in FOS content. Thus, the objectives of this proposed study are to determine the best harvest timing, postharvest handling, and storage conditions to optimize yields and constancy of the FOS content. To meet these goals, yacon roots will be evaluated for its functional constituents. Additionally, these plants will be grown under high and low altitudes from two distinct regions (Piedade and Guatapará/Bonfim Paulista counties in São Paulo state). Once best practices (e.g. harvest timing at the highest FOS, best practices on root handling and processing) have been determined, Santa Martha will be able to market standardized juice and flour in the nutraceutical market. Additionally, these higher-quality yacon ingredients (e.g. flour, juice, etc.) will also allow for the development of new functional food products. Finally, Santa Martha's project will also increase the demand for the roots by adding value to yacon supply chain. (AU)