The United Arab Emirates University research team developed a novel technique for
processing and recovering of bioactive molecules from date seeds in a more non-toxic
and eco-friendly method
(Phoenix dactylifera L.) processing: Modeling, optimization and phenolic characterization
Jennifer Airouyuwa (PhD student) and Sajid Maqsood (Professor in Food Science).
The date fruits are considered as a significantly important crop in the Arid and semi-arid
regions of the world and United Arab Emirates (UAE) is one of the largest producers
and exporter of date fruits with about 160 different varieties being produced in UAE.
The actual date palm tree population in UAE is about 44 million of which 8.5 million
are present in Al-Ain region with 76,000 tons of dates produced per year in UAE.
Date seeds generated as wastes or by-product from date fruit processing possesses
numerous nutritional and health benefits due to its richness in bioactive compounds
and high antioxidant, antimicrobial and anticancer properties that make it interesting
bioresources for efficient utilization into food and nutraceutical applications.
Till date, the extraction of bioactive compounds from date seeds have been carried
out using conventional solvents like ethanol, and methanol, these solvents are not
safe for both human’s and the environment. Similarly, the conventional method of extraction
of bioactive compounds requires longer time (sometimes days), and high quantity of
extraction solvent which make the process costly. Hence, the need for the search of
non-toxic and ecofriendly solvents that can replaced these conventional solvents and
also research on a fast extraction process that need less quantity of solvent is needed.
In the Food Chemistry lab at Department of Food Science, we are applying novel green
extraction technology using Natural Deep Eutectic Solvents (NADESs) for recovery of
different bioactive molecules from date by-products and wastes. NADESs are considered
as the solvents of the 21st century and are potential alternatives to organic solvents.
NADESs have been recognized as a novel class of sustainable green solvents because
they are made from widely available, naturally occurring, non-toxic biodegradable
components. Recently, NADESs have been considered as promising new green solvents
in areas such as foods, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals.
Further, such green solvents are used in combination of emerging extraction technologies
like microwave and ultrasonication which further enhances the extraction efficiency.
In line with this, our research group has been successful to extract different bioactive
molecules from date seeds powder (DSP) and other by-products using different types
of NADES and emerging extraction technlologies (microwave assisted extraction (MAE).
The NADES that produced good amounts of bioactive compounds were optimized using response
surface methodology (RSM). The optimization was carried out to know the best extraction
conditions in terms of temperature, time and %NADES content.
Our research clearly indicated that using green extraction solvents for date seeds
showed that NADES were highly effective for the extraction the phenolic compounds.
Interestingly, the extraction of biomolecules from DSP by using NADES had higher yield
compared to 80% ethanol, which is used very commonly as a conventional solvent. This
novel green extraction technology is expected open up the doors to explore available
renewable natural bioresources for green applications in date industry in UAE. Also,
the by-products of date industry are aimed to be valorized by exploring their nutraceutical
potential and applications in food-based products. Thes findings will allow evaluating
the opportunities for industrial collaboration and formulating novel functional food
product(s) having UAEU associated with their brand.
This research is funded by UAEU through its National Water and Energy Center.