Scientists study nutricosmetic potential of native South American berries -

Scientists study nutricosmetic potential of native South American berries

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Scientists study nutricosmetic potential of native South American berries

Scientists have embarked on a study to test the antioxidant and antimicrobial potential of two native berries found in Chile and Argentina, for use in the pharmaceutical an cosmetic industry. peumo _ small

The study, which will analyze the properties of fruits from the Peumo and Arrayán trees, is led by Dr. Lida Fuentes of Chile's Regional Center for Food and Health Studies (CREAS) and funded by government innovation agency CORFO.

Peumo trees bloom from November to January and produce red berries, while the Arrayán - otherwise known as the Chilean myrtle - produces small black or blue berries.

Fuentes told that many studies had already shown the health benefits of these berries, particularly in terms of antioxidants that help ward of cancer and cardiovascular disease. The berries have also been noted for their prophylactic uses in preventing urinary tract infections.

"The CORFO project study came out of results obtained by a CONAF project, which is still running and is oriented toward finding added value in different native species to promote sustainable management," she said.

"We chose these species in particular, due to their wide distribution in the country, easy multiplication, their use in Mapuche [native indigenous group] medicine and the fact that both have edible fruits."

The scientist mentioned there was still a lack of knowledge about the properties these trees and fruits held, but it was hoped they could have the same potential as other successful native fruits such as the Maqui and Murta berries, which have had significant development within the nutricosmetic industry.

She highlighted that the international market for well-being products that are environmentally friendly has gained importance in recent years, and that Chile needed to make the most of this opportunity.

Dr. Lida Fuentes

Dr. Lida Fuentes

"Through this study we want to evaluate the antioxidant and antimicrobial capacity of both species and compare these characteristics with commercial species that are grown in this country such as raspberries and blueberries.

"There are many studies that show antioxidant molecules have great benefits for the health of human beings. These molecules could be obtained through food, food supplements, and also through creams that are rich in these molecules and delay the aging of skin."

She said products derived from native species were an excellent alternative for entering the nutricosmetic industry.

"However, if we go to pharmacies and ask for food supplements or cosmetic creams, we see that the majority have raw materials that are imported," Fuentes said.

"If the country is interested in competing in this market, it is very important to evalute new sources, and the native flora is an excellent opportunity as it enables us to be more competitive with our own products.

"Luckily there are already products from native species that are having an incipient use in this market, such as supplements based on Maqui and cosmetic creams based on Murta.

She added it was also very important that these projects had a focus on social and economic impacts, aiming to help growers, make the most of native materials and promote environmental protection.

"I think the biggest support of these projects is the social and ecological impact, as the industry associated with the use of native plants mainly favors gatherers and micro-companies.

"Additionally, the fact that native plants have a use and people give a value to them that isn't about timber, allows for better preservation and reduces the replacement of native forests with the planting of forestry species.

"We hope that in the future these projects will promote reforestation and will be a new source of business for growers."

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