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Pomegranate peel as a source of antioxidants

The meat industry is under the critical eye of the growing veggie trend. It is time to follow the path of sustainability and start incorporating natural antioxidants to preserve the properties and shelf life of meat preparations.

Pomegranate skin has been studied for several years in various research projects in order to establish itself as a functional ingredient, thanks to the high concentration of bioactive compounds such as phenols, flavonoids and tannins. For this reason, pomegranate skin is a real alternative as a substitute for synthetic preservatives, allowing to extend the useful life of food while maintaining all its characteristics and improving its technological properties, in a natural way.

Pomegranate skin as a functional ingredient

The pomegranate bush (Punica granatum) produces the pomegranate, whose bioactive properties such as its high concentration of phenols, flavonoids and tannins, make it a good candidate for a functional ingredient. It is considered a fruit with super powers, due to its richness in antioxidants, minerals and vitamin C.

The cultivation of the pomegranate dates back to the 1st century AD. in central and southern India, later extending its cultivation to various temperate zones of the planet, including the Mediterranean basin and the Canary Islands.

“The Antioxidant properties of pomegranate skin have been studied in depth for a decade”

Agrosingularity’s powdered pomegranate skin is reddish-brown in color, with a slightly sweet and fruity flavor and aroma. In its composition we highlight:

  • 31% of fibre
  • 19% natural sugars
  • 28% polyphenols
  • 9,1 mg Vitamin C/100 grams

Thanks to its natural properties, it can be used in the food industry for multiple uses such as baking, drinks, snacks and healthy products. But lately, its use as an antioxidant in meat preparations is the most outstanding property, thanks to the amount of polyphenols and vitamin C naturally present [1].

Preservative characteristics of pomegranate skin

Due to the nutritional profile of meat, it is susceptible to deterioration processes due to microbial growth and oxidation, which can occur during handling, processing and storage of the product. For this reason, the use of antioxidants is necessary to avoid a rapid evolution of these processes, which allow to preserve the characteristics of meat elaborations and extend the useful life.

Pomegranate peel has two remarkable preservative activities:

  • Antioxidant activity, reflected in a high amount of total phenolic compounds, and a high antioxidant capability measured through different standard tests such as DPPH, ABTS and Trolox.
  • Antimicrobial activity, due to the high amount of phenolic compounds, especially tannins. It has been shown in several studies how pomegranate skin is capable of offering resistance against microorganisms of different polluting species in food, such as Salmonella typhimurium, Bacillus subtilis, Escherichia coli or Listeria monocytogenes.

Recent research [2] reviewed the antioxidant capacity of different containers in which different food products had been incorporated into their composition, showing the pomegranate peel satisfactory results against a wide spectrum of microorganisms.

Advantages of using pomegranate skin as a natural antioxidant

Agrosingularity’s Pomegranate Peel is a by-product of reclaimed pomegranate processing to give it a second life. In addition to the intrinsic advantage of reusing by-products that are usually discarded, we can highlight other benefits:

  • Avoid the use of synthetic preservatives such as BHT or BHA commonly used in the meat industry, as recent studies have revealed their toxicity and potential carcinogenicity.
  • In the production of meat products such as meatballs, it has been seen that pomegranate skin, compared to the synthetic antioxidant BHT and after eight days of refrigerated storage, shows better results in terms of protein and lipid stability. This is due to the high content of phenolic compounds and their antioxidant capacity.
  • Pomegranate peel has a high fibre content, which helps to improve the physical-chemical properties of the meat in terms of its preparation, and to nutritionally enrich the product.
  • Sensory analysis of meat products made with pomegranate peel shows that the colour of the meat is maintained compared to the control, and that the formation of odours is prevented.
  • After prolonged storage for 15 days at 4ºC, meat products showed lower microbial activity compared to the antioxidant BHT, due to the presence of phenols and tannins.
  • The shelf life of processed meat products, such as cooked sausages, was increased by 25% compared to the control, by adding pomegranate skin in low concentrations.

Other properties of pomegranate peel

In addition to the advantages from the point of view of the food industry, it has been studied that extracts from the peel of pomegranate have other properties of great interest to health:

  • Prevents the onset of cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and hypertension.
  • It has anti-inflammatory capacity, reducing the secretion of pro-inflammatory substances, and even acting against chronic inflammatory diseases.
  • Inhibits the growth of tumor cells, thanks to active agents with anti-cancer effects.

Conclusions

  • Thanks to studies in recent years, pomegranate skin has positioned itself as a natural antioxidant in the production of meat products.
  • Pomegranate skin has antioxidant and antimicrobial activity, so it can be used as a functional ingredient and natural antioxidant.
  • The advantages of using pomegranate peel as a natural antioxidant compared to other synthetic ones is demonstrated by various studies of the last ten years.

References:

[1] Gullón et al., 2020. Review. Pomegranate peel as suitable source of high-added value bioactives: tailored functionalized meat products. Molecules 25:2859. 

[2] Nur et al., 2018. Effect of different fruit peles on the functional properties of gelatin/polyethylene bilayer films for active packaging. Food Packaging Shelf Life 18: 201-211.