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Secrets of the Amazonian bacuri

Bacuri: the rind is thicker than the pulp and is rich in the antioxidant morelloflavone

Hellen Perrone/Wikicommons Bacuri: the rind is thicker than the pulp and is rich in the antioxidant morelloflavoneHellen Perrone/Wikicommons

Leftover fruit skins and rinds in the juice, concentrates and preserve industry often pose a problem that may hide some surprises, as in the case of the bacuri fruit (Platonia insignis) from the Amazon region. Small or family-run companies usually discard the rinds of this tiny fruit, which is rich in a substance called morelloflavone. “This flavonoid has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, as shown by in vitro enzymatic tests,” says Maria Luiza Zeraik, a professor at Londrina State University (UEL). Zeraik participated in the study during a postdoctoral internship at the Chemistry Department of São Paulo State University (Unesp), in the city of Araraquara. The department is part of the Center for Research and Innovation in Biodiversity and Drug Discovery (CIBFar), a Research, Innovation and Dissemination Center (RIDC) supported by FAPESP and led by Professor Vanderlan Bolzani. “The project on endemic Brazilian fruits is revealing an incredible molecular richness. In the case of the bacuri, what impressed me the most was seeing that the rind contains morelloflavone, which is not common,” says Bolzani. “Five milligrams of this substance costs around $60,” says Zeraik. She adds that the process for extracting the flavonoid from the rinds is quick and simple, and can easily be reproduced at an industrial scale. “I believe that the study can attract corporate attention to the possibility of using bacuri rinds to develop a natural antioxidant to be used in cosmetics,” says Bolzani.