Green Health research group
The Green Health research group has as objective knowledge development and knowledge dissemination on increasing fruit and vegetable consumption, the health of Dutch consumers and the sustainability of Dutch society.
About the research group
The Green Health research group wants to develop and exchange knowledge about how to increase consumption of fruit and vegetables in order to contribute to the long-term success of the horticultural sector, employment opportunities for graduates of HAS green academy, the health of Dutch consumers and the sustainability of Dutch society.
The Netherlands has a considerable need for innovative food-related solutions in order to put a stop to the continuously rising cost of health care. There is broad consensus that eating sufficient fruit and vegetables contributes to the prevention of various affluence-related diseases. Yet most people in the Netherlands still do not eat enough fruit and veg.
There is a lack of fruit and vegetable products that are easier to eat and can be eaten at different times of the day. On the other hand, the number of unhealthy products is very high, making it hard for fruit and vegetables to compete. This does however create opportunities for product development in response to the eating behaviours of various consumer groups.
Fruit and vegetables naturally contain many positive compounds and fit well in a healthy diet. However, these compounds are hardly ever measured due to the high costs of doing so. As a result, the effects of variety, cultivation conditions, post-harvest conditions and processing methods on the nutritional value are largely unknown.
A quick and cheap method to measure compounds will provide that insight and could lead to added value in the form of substantiated food claims such as ‘source of’ and ‘high in’.
New products and business concepts
De horticultural sector is an important economic driving force for the Netherlands. However, the sector has a relatively limited profile when it comes to promoting the fact that a healthy diet makes a significant contribution to the health and well-being of individuals. New products and business concepts for fruit and vegetables are needed in order to increase consumption and to add value to their products.
Lines of research
The Green Health research group focuses on 3 lines of research:
- Using new concepts to increase fruit and vegetables consumption
Developing new concepts based on fresh or processed fruit and vegetables that suit various meals and locations and take in to consideration the different target groups. Testing new concepts where they are bought and eaten increases the chance that these concepts will actually reach the market.
- Developing low-cost methods to measure the nutritional value of fruit and vegetables
Developing cheap and reliable methods to systematically measure and monitor the nutritional value of fresh and processed fruit and vegetables. Based on the results, specific advice could be given regarding plant breeding, cultivation, post-harvest conditions and processing.
- Maintaining the quality of fruit and vegetables between harvest and consumption
Applying post-harvest knowledge to issues regarding the quality of fruit and vegetables. Currently, considerable quantities of products are still lost between harvest and consumption. An important problem is the huge losses during the transport of soft fruit. Another problem is the short shelf life of leaf vegetables (lettuce, spinach), products with an increasing demand, as a result, for example of the increase in ready-made salads.