Indian scientists explore alternative edible oil sources

By staff reporter

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Fatty acid

Scientists from India's Indian Institute of Technology have
reported the potential of bahera as a novel source of edible oil to
help the country make up its short-fall in supply.

"Bahera fruit appears very promising for commercial exploitation and can be considered as the 'Olive of India',"​ wrote the authors in the Journal of Food Engineering​. Global oilseed production for 2005-06 however was projected at a record 389 million tonnes with non-US production predicted to reach 292.5 million tonnes, according to the American Soybean Association (ASA). But according to background information in the article, edible oils are scarce in India, with annual requirements of about five million tons. Oilseed production in some Asian countries is unable to meet this demand. "A breakthrough is required to find a new source of edible oil to meet this demand,"​ wrote the researchers. They looked at the potential for the tropical Asian Bahera plant to make up this shortfall. It is reportedly able to produce about 500 kg of raw fruit every year, with the plant reaching maturity after only six to eight years. Lead researcher Professor A. Nag told "In India (every thing is unpredictable) the bahera oil the market will shine high when oil industry giants fall short of conventional raw martial of edible oil, it is true else where in the world." ​ The researchers report that bahera (Terminalia belerica Roxb​ (Combretaceae​)) has a fatty acid composition of palmitic acid (18.25 per cent), stearic acid (8.20 per cent), oleic acid (50.20 per cent), and linoleic (10.8 per cent). "One very interesting point to note here is that the oil has only about 10 per cent of the constituent (stearic) saturated fatty acid,"​ noted the researchers. Also, the oil cake - the coarse residues obtained after extracting the oil from the seed - contains about 60 per cent protein which could be turned into animal feed, or a biofertiliser. The researchers also explained that the seed coat contains high amounts of the antioxidant gallic acid (3.2 mg/ml), which could be added to other vegetable oils to prolong their shelf life. Further research is necessary, said the scientists, to investigate the sustainability and productivity of the crop. "There is no global dependable and consolidated botanical and forestry survey to indicate the total potential and annual yield of bahera (Termanillia bellirica). Hence productivity and sustainability are not yet predictable,"​ Professor A. Nag told this website. Source: Journal of Food Engineering​ (Elsevier) Volume 81, Issue 4, Pages 688-692 "Biotechnological applications in agriculture: A new source of edible oil and production of biofertiliser and antioxidant from its by-products"​ Authors: D. Bera, D. Lahiri, Antonella De Leonardis, K.B. De and A. Nag

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