Berries taken since the time of Ghengis Khan could form the basis of the next big thing in heart health. Sea buckthorn is a known source of biologically active chemicals and is used in Tibet, Mongolia, China and Russia for health drinks and various cosmetics. Juice extracted using current methods is of poor quality, but scientists in India have developed a highly efficient technique to extract large quantities of cholesterol-lowering compounds. Two companies have shown interest in the process including one based in Mongolia.
In research due to be published this week in SCI's Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture (DOI 10.1002/jsfa2620) Dr C Arumyghan and his team at the Regional Research Laboratory, Trivandrum report the implementation of a new process which retains more than 40% of polyphenols - the same beneficial chemicals found in red wine, 50% of flavonoids and 70% of vitamin C present in the pulp of the red berries.
Antioxidants in the berries inhibit so-called 'bad' LDL cholesterol oxidisation, which could provide a new weapon to fight cardiovascular disease. When LDL cholesterol is oxidized, it sticks to the lining of blood vessels. Consuming the berries in food or drinks is expected to prevent the arteries from clogging up.
Arumughan is confident that this technology had great potential, saying "No previous report has shown efficiency matching ours". Arumughan's team have unlocked the nutrients by applying novel processing technique for the first time. The key to their success is using continuous high speed centrifugation (spinning) to separate the juice and the solid sludge.