(Natural News) A new study reported that the seeds of the Tunisian dates are an untapped, rich, and inexpensive source of polyphenols. These bioactive compounds have powerful antioxidant properties that can strengthen the immune system by scavenging free radicals and preventing oxidative stress that damages cells.
Polyphenols and other natural oxidants are drawing a lot of interest due to these beneficial effects on human health. Many researchers are looking for cheap and plentiful sources of these phytochemicals.
A number of studies have shown that seeds contain more metabolites – such as polyphenols – than the edible portion. In the case of the Tunisian date, a large percentage of the pits are either thrown away or used as animal feed.
Researchers from the Institut Superieur de Biotechnologie de Monastir (ISBM) believe the discarded seeds could be turned into a source of natural antioxidant compounds by impoverished countries like Tunisia that grow large numbers of date palms. (Related: The history and constituents of the date palm, a favorite since ancient times.)
Different solvents are tested for polyphenol extraction from date seeds
Previous studies have established that date seed extract is nontoxic for humans. It is safe for use and has been shown to offer protection against the harmful effects of oxidative stress.
Oxidative stress is known to cause or worsen diseases such as diabetes mellitus. It can also worsen inflammation, and cause various toxic reactions that damage DNA, enzymes, and mitochondria.
Studies have shown that plant-based metabolites are capable of amending these problems. Polyphenols can help control blood sugar levels, while phenolics and flavonoids suppress out-of-control inflammation.
Date fruits possess anti-inflammatory properties. While their seeds have not yet been thoroughly investigated for these properties, the pits have been used in traditional medicines to suppress inflammation.
The ISBM researchers sought to figure out the phytochemicals in date pits. They also wanted to discover the effects of different solvents on the extract’s antioxidant activity, in vitro antidiabetic, and in vivo anti-inflammatory properties.
For the experiment, they acquired the Arechti and Korkobbi cultivars of date palms. They extracted the seeds, washed and air-dried, and then ground them into fine powder.
Extracts from the powder samples were taken twice per sample using methanol, absolute acetone, or aqueous acetone as solvents. Each resulting extract was redissolved in its solvent and analyzed for antioxidant activity as well as their phytochemical content – phenolics, flavonoids, and condensed tannins.
Polyphenols in date seeds can prevent oxidative stress and control blood sugar levels
They reported that the water and methanol extracts contained more phenolic content than the acetones extract, with water outperforming methanol. The two solvents are polar solvents, which allows them to extract more polyphenols from the pits.
Due to the number of phenols extracted, the water solvent also displayed high antioxidant activities.
When tested for their in vitro hyperglycemia key enzymes inhibition, the aqueous extract of the Arechti seed and Korkobbi seed displayed the best blood sugar level-regulating activity. Their effects are comparable with the standard diabetes treatment drug acarbose.
This performance repeated itself for the in vivo anti-inflammatory activity test, where the researchers injected the extracts into rats with carrageenan-induced paw edema. The aqueous extract was shown to be the most effective at decreasing the size of the swelling.
Based on their findings, the ISBM researchers concluded that the water-based aqueous date seed extract is the most effective among the tested extract. Its extracts could serve as an inexpensive, safe, and effective source of natural antioxidants in both dietary and pharmacological applications.
Find out more ways to get diabetes under control at DiabetesScienceNews.com.