Home > Industry News > Ceylon ironwood is widely known for its durable wood – but what about its antioxidant-rich fruit?
Ceylon ironwood is widely known for its durable wood – but what about its antioxidant-rich fruit?
Fruits have long been known to contain antioxidants, which is why they are indispensable parts of a healthy diet. In case you need a refresher, antioxidants are naturally occurring chemicals that get rid of free radicals, which are harmful to our cells. Some of the fruits known to be packed with antioxidants are grapes, strawberries, blueberries, oranges and plums. It’s fine if you’re already content with having these in your diet; but if you’re in search of something to add to the mix, then you might want to consider the antioxidant-rich fruit of the Ceylon ironwood.
Ceylon ironwood (Manilkara hexandra) is a small-to-medium-sized evergreen tree native to South Asia. In India, it is locally known as rayan or khirni and is mostly found in the country’s western and central states. Almost every part of the tree has been used in traditional medicine by older people as well as tribal people in India. The seeds, for instance, contain 25% edible oil and a crude saponin mixture that has been studied for its anti-inflammatory properties. The rayan fruit, on the other hand, is reported to have phytochemicals that can reduce blood sugar, making it a potential antidiabetic food.
But researchers from the Sardar Patel University in India believed that there is more to the rayan fruit than just that. In their study, published in the journal Food Science and Human Wellness, they examined its content for other health benefits. They extracted chemical compounds from its pulp and seeds using methanol and compared the amounts to determine which part yielded more. They then tested the chemicals for antioxidant activity using different assays.
Here’s what they found
The rayan fruit is rich in flavonoids and phenolic compounds. Flavonoids are polyphenolic secondary metabolites responsible for producing pigment in plants. They are also famous for their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Phenolic compounds, on the other hand, are also secondary metabolites that only differ from flavonoids in terms of chemical structure. Phenolic compounds are most notable for their anti-cancer properties, in particular, their ability to induce cell suicide in cancer cells.
The rayan fruit is rich in the phenolic compound gallic acid. Gallic acid is a well-known antioxidant. It is also the main component of antioxidant tea formulations used in Ayurvedic medicine. Aside from gallic acid, the pulp of the rayan fruit also contains catechol, ferulic acid, vanillic acid, and coumaric acid, some of which also possess similar antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
The rayan fruit is rich in the flavonoids kaempferol and quercetin. Kaempferol is another known antioxidant widely studied for its ability to prevent cancer. It has been shown to inhibit cancer cell growth and angiogenesis and kill cancer cells effectively. Quercetin is a flavonoid usually found in foods such as onions, green tea, apples and the herb Ginkgo biloba. It also boasts antioxidative activity and protects against lipid degradation.
The pulp of the rayan fruit is a better source of antioxidants than the seeds. Upon comparison of the yields from the fruit pulp and the seeds, the researchers found that more flavonoids and phenolic compounds can be extracted from the pulp than the seeds. This is good news because people who want to get all the good benefits of rayan can just munch on the juicy flesh of the fruit instead of worrying about wasting a lot of antioxidants when they throw the seeds away. (Related: You know grapes are high in antioxidants – but have you looked at their leaves?)
Based on these findings, the researchers suggest that the fruit of the Ceylon ironwood be made a part of people’s diet because it is a great source of antioxidants which help maintain a healthy body.