A new study investigates the potential of broccoli, carrot and cucumber seed flours to improve our gut health. Usually thrown away as by-products from seed oil manufacturing, this could lead to opportunities for their use in nutraceuticals or functional foods.
Changes to the complex community of thousands of different microorganisms that live inside our gut have been implicated in many different conditions – from inflammatory bowel disease to diabetes, allergies, obesity and even autism. Consequently, there has been an explosion of studies looking at altering the profile of a person’s gut microbiome in a positive way. Many involve taking supplements containing live so-called ‘friendly’ bacteria or eating probiotic foods – such as yoghurts, pickles, miso soup or kimchi.
However, the potential health benefits of probiotics can be eroded by factors such as temperature, pH and time that can impact on the bacteria surviving long enough to reach the gut.
But these factors don’t affect prebiotics, which are non-digestible food ingredients that can nourish friendly bacteria, encouraging their growth or activity – altering the balance of the gut community in favour of a healthier composition.
Scientists are busy exploring the role of a multitude of different foods, including fruit and herb seeds and their components, to identify their potential interactions with our gut bacteria.
A new study evaluates the phytochemical compositions of carrot, broccoli and cucumber seed flour and their impact on the gut microbiome and a range of other potential health benefits.1 The researchers relied on ultrapure water prepared
by an ELGA Purelab Ultra genetic polishing system for their experiments.
The team first extracted and examined the phytochemical composition of the seed flours using ultra high-performance liquid chromatography coupled with high-resolution mass spectrometry (UHPLC-HRMS). They detected nine compounds in broccoli and ten in carrot seed flour extracts but were unable to detect anything in their cucumber seed flour samples.
The major component of the broccoli seed flour was a flavonoid called kaempferol and in the carrot seed extract, glucoraphanin – both of which are compounds already being actively researched for their potential benefits for our health.
They next analysed the effects of broccoli, carrot and cucumber seed flour extracts on gut bacteria, finding that all boosted growth and the relative abundance of certain groups. They also showed that all display a range of other potential health benefits, including anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, and an ability to slow down the growth of cancer cells grown in dishes.
For the first time, this study shows that carrot, cucumber and broccoli seed flour components could potentially alter gut bacteria abundance and profile and may also have several other health-improving properties.
If further studies confirm these preliminary findings, it could lead to their use in nutraceuticals and functional foods, laying the foundations for the agricultural industry to add value to by-products while enhancing human health.
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Choe, U. et. al. Chemical Compositions of Cold-Pressed Broccoli, Carrot and Cucumber Seed Flours and Their in Vitro Gut Microbiota Modulatory, Anti-Inflammatory, and Free Radical Scavenging Properties.
Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry (2018) Sep 5;66(35):9309-9317.