Wednesday, January 23, 2008

More on the fancy food show tomorrow, first this!

A very interesting story was published today. I found it fascinating and thought some of you might enjoy it too. First off let me tell you about synthetic forms of antioxidants BHA and BHT. They are artificial ingredients used by the food industry to slow down the deterioration of food. You see it listed on just about everything.

BHT is actually Butylated hydroxytoluene is produced by alkylation reaction of p-cresol with isobutylene. The species acts as a synthetic analogue of vitamin E, primarily a terminating agent that suppresses autoxidation, a process whereby unsaturated organic compounds are attacked by atmospheric oxygen.

BHA is actually Butylated hydroxyanisole is a mixture of two isomeric organic compounds, 2-tert-butyl-4-hydroxyanisole and 3-tert-butyl-4-hydroxyanisole. It is prepared from 4-methoxyphenol and isobutylene. It is a waxy substance that inhibits spoilage.

Wow, I bet you never thought about those compounds like this before. So why am I talking about them? Because you need to begin to read those labels and understand what all those terms mean and why they work. And for this good news: A report out of Pakistan (of all places! why not here!) today talks of a new natural version of BHA and BHT. It is derived from the skin of Pomegranates. Yes, those seedy little scrumptious fruits. Synthetic anti-oxidants have run their course and the world is demanding natural alternatives. Herbs, primarily rosemary and vitamins E and C are replacing BHA and BHT. Now scientists in Pakistan have discovered the peel from Pomegranates have similar capabilities.

The report states that the peel of the Pomegranate is virtually a waste product in most cases and the discovery of its antioxidant properties is a boon to the food industry. To quote from the report: "This natural antioxidant range could potentially include pomegranate peel, "underestimated as an agricultural waste," according to Iqbal and co-workers, whose promising new results showed the potential of peel extracts on the thermal and storage stability of sunflower oil.

The researchers used methanol to extract antioxidants from the peels, and report a 29.2 per cent yield with an antioxidant activity of 92.7 per cent.

"Pomegranate peel extract at concentration of 800-850 ppm has stabilization efficiency comparable to conventional synthetic antioxidants, i.e. BHT at its legal limit," wrote the researchers.

"It improves resistance of sunflower oil against thermal deteriorative changes. Besides this, polyunsaturated fatty acid content is saved appreciably by creating resistance in oil against oxidative rancidity,"
they concluded.

This is great news combined with the other known beneficial properties of the fruit.

Sources sited for the report are:Food Research International (Elsevier)
Published on-line ahead of print, doi:10.1016/j.foodres.2007.11.005
"Efficiency of pomegranate peel extracts in stabilization of sunflower oil under accelerated conditions"
Authors: Shahid Iqbal, S. Haleem, M. Akhtar, M. Zia-ul-Haq, J. Akbar