Nasri et.al collected four species of acacia seeds in Tunisia, extracted the oils and analysed minor compounds known to be beneficial to human health using chromatography.
There are around 1350 acacia species in warm climates worldwide, but the four analysed: A. A. cyclops, A. ligulata, A. salicina and A. cyanophylla – are native to Tunisia.
Results published in the Lipids in Health and Disease journal found that all species analysed contained carotenoids, tocopherols and sterols, minor compounds recognised as providing nutritional benefits.
“This study highlights that these unexploited seeds might have a potential nutritional value and encourages researchers to more explore and find developments for these plants for healthy purposes,” said the researchers.
They said that vegetable oils with high amount amounts of minor lipid components were important to human health.
Lipid-rich accacia seed oil could prove a healthier alternative to sunflower or rapeseed oil.
According to the researchers, the study marks the first time the composition of acacia species lipid fraction has been reported.
Lipids in Health and Disease 2012 11:49.
‘Minor lipid components of some Acacia species: potential dietary health benefits of the unexploited seeds’
Authors: Nizar Nasri, Walid Elfalleh, Nizar Tlili, Hédia Hannachi, Saida Triki and Abdelhamid Khaldi