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How Aloe Vera Can Protect Fruits, Vegetables

You know how useful Aloe vera can be in relieving skin irritations, for example, related to sunburns. Those same protective properties may be used one day as a welcome alternative to the conventional synthetic preservatives that currently taint fruits and vegetables shipped to many grocery stores.

Spanish researchers developed a colorless gel from the Aloe vera plant that can be used as an edible coating to protect and prolong the quality of fresh produce. Then, they compared grapes dipped in Aloe vera gel and stored for five weeks in low temperatures with untreated grapes exposed to the same conditions.

As you can imagine, the untreated grapes withered away in about seven days, while the Aloe vera-treated grapes remained well-preserved for as long as five weeks under the same conditions. The Aloe vera gel doesn't seem to affect the taste or appearance of fruits and vegetables either: A taste-test found the gel-covered grapes obviously tasted far better than the untreated ones. (Interestingly, researchers point out Aloe vera has already been used for years as an ingredient in some foods and beverages.)

A special processing technique was used to develop the colorless gel that maximized the amount of active compounds in the gel, scientists say. And. it can also be applied as a spray.

How Aloe vera works on fruits and vegetables: Composed mostly of polysaccharides, the gel serves as a natural barrier to moisture and oxygen, which can speed up the deterioration of food.

Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry September 10, 2005

Science Daily September 22, 2005

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