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FST Research Unearths Potential Usefulness of Ackee Seed

Ackee, Jamaica's national fruit, is not only a significant food source but also a valuable foreign exchange earner. Traditionally, various parts of the ackee tree have been used medicinally throughout the West Indies. The fruit is harvested twice a year, and while the arilli (edible part) are canned and exported, the seeds, raphe, and pods are usually discarded due to their toxic properties when unripe.

Recent research by the University of the West Indies has revealed the potential usefulness of ackee seeds. Key findings include:

Bioactive Components: Ackee seeds are rich in bioactive compounds, including gondoic acid, which has anti-inflammatory properties.

Detection of Toxins: Using Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FTIR), researchers identified the cyclopropyl moiety in hypoglycin B, a toxic component, suggesting FTIR's potential in hypoglycin detection.

Metabolites: The profiling of ackee seed extracts identified metabolites with free radical scavenging activity.

The research highlights potential commercial applications for ackee seed oil and starch, such as in cosmetics and spray starch. Additionally, the oil's properties suggest it could be used in the surfactant industry due to its stability and saponification value.

Dr. Andrea Goldson-Barnaby, a senior lecturer in the Department of Chemistry at the University of the West Indies, emphasized the significance of this research for sustainable agricultural practices. She stated, "As we move towards more sustainable agricultural practices, our group wanted to investigate the potential applications of the ackee seed by characterising its chemical composition. Our main objective was to identify the chemical components within the ackee seed, which will guide further commercial applicability"

Traditionally, ackee components have been used to treat various ailments, such as skin infections, parasites, headaches, and fevers. However, the oils from ackee seeds and arilli have not yet been commercially exploited, despite showing promising properties for use in food and cosmetics industries. The oils have antioxidant properties and fatty acid compositions similar to other commercial oils, making them suitable for these applications.

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Published on 20 May, 2024

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