Michael Bernstein

The Food Court: New use for fruit seeds, peels and leaves — or waste not, want not

Blog Post created by Michael Bernstein on May 20, 2014

Avocados are great with a little salad dressing or as the yummiest ingredient in guacamole. But when you get to the half of the fruit with that big brown seed or pit in it, the fun stops abruptly. Using a knife doesn’t work well, and forget about a fork. Luckily the third key utensil is the magic charm: A nice large soup spoon is ideal for scooping out the seed and the fruit.

Unless you plan to grow your own avocado plant, however, you will throw that seed in the trash. But not so fast!

A recent review article in ACS’ Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry says that the seeds and other inedible parts of certain tropical fruits in particular may well contain ingredients for a new, natural weight-loss product. We’re talking about the flower, leaf and peel, as well as the seeds.

After reviewing more than 80 studies done over a decade, Dawei Zhang and colleagues have concluded that these apparently worthless waste products actually contain high amounts of phytochemicals that could help with losing weight.
Phytochemicals
are non-nutritive plant chemicals that can help protect people from diseases. Among these are polyphenols, which are healthful antioxidants.

As yet, there is no clear evidence on exactly how these phytochemicals work to reduce weight, Zhang says. Researchers haven’t isolated the bioactive compounds or discovered if there is a combination of compounds in the fruits that work to reduce weight. But the point is that the fruit waste does appear to be effective in keeping weight down in lab tests, thus helping prevent development of diabetes, for example.


Besides having great potential as an anti-obesity agent, the study team says the fruit waste has a major advantage over weight-loss drugs: It won’t produce side effects as some synthetic meds do. So what are some of these magical inedibles? They include seeds from nuts and corn in addition to avocados; tangerine, mango and prickly pear peels; pomegranate flowers, and mango, guava, papaya and olive leaves.


While studies document how effective these waste fat-fighters can be, no one has described how to extract and process these compounds from foods. “We need to find the right places and equipment to store these fruit wastes to prevent them from decaying,” said Zhang. “We also need to develop large-scale extraction techniques to take up only the parts that we need.” Also important, he said, is to grow large quantities of crops that contain high amounts of the valuable anti-obesity compounds.

 

“The Hidden Potential of Tropical Fruit Waste Components As Useful Source of Remedy for Obesity”

Click here for the abstract.

*Journalists can request a PDF of the journal article by emailing newsroom@acs.org.

 

 

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Credit:iStock/Thinkstock

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