“This analysis indicates AOB varieties have polyphenol content similar to strawberry and blueberry, with a significant contribution of oligomeric and polymeric proanthocyanidins . . . Additionally, AOB contains alpha- and gamma-tocopherol, and we anticipate that its extracts and oils could be developed as a lycopene and vitamin E-rich ingredient source. The combination of multiple phytochemical antioxidants including lycopene, ascorbic acid, polyphenols and tocopherols make AOB an attractive source of functional ingredients for foods and beverages,” wrote the researchers, who are associated with the University of Connecticut and Ohio State University.
Grown in the US since the 19th century (largely to defend against soil erosion), the bush’s berries provide a concentrated source lycopene, reportedly 17 times that of tomatoes. Scientific interest in lycopene has triggered a veritable flood of lycopene extracts and supplements to the marketplace, but supplements lack the holistic co-factors in fruits and vegetables that help the body absorb key compounds, said Orin Zelenak, president and founder of Lycoberry, a New York-based startup founded to commercialize the berry/
In addition to the lycopene, Zelanak said the berry has something which some other off-beat, polyphenolic-rich berry sources lack - good taste.
“One of the interesting things about this berry, if you compare it to aronia (chokeberries), well, you really have to have a taste for aronia. Lycoberry is very tasty. If you like raspberries, you’d like this,” Zelenak told NutraIngredients-USA.
“We’re very excited about this new information,” Zelenak added. “We see this as having nutraceutical value. It delivers a high concentration of lycopene, but we can achieve that without extraction and we can leave the synergy of nature in place."
Combination of factors
“Within the phytochemical matrix, we see lycopene as doing most of the heavy lifting," he added. "It’s really a case of teamwork . We have anecdotal evidence which supports the idea that the berry is an effective anti-inflammatory. It could potentially be capable, for example, of interrupting the uric acid pathway that leads to gout symptoms. We don’t see any reason for not pushing on, garning more research results and attention."
Available in concentrated puree, dried flakes, fine powder or frozen whole berry form, Lycoberries have a sweet-tart flavor profile and a hint of astringency that Zelenak likens to rhubarb or cranberry. Because of its high lycopene concentration, a relatively small amount (1 tablespoon of puree) delivers the 7 mg of lycopene required to "lyco-functionalize" a serving of many foods. There is no recommended daily allowance for lycopene, though most supplements deliver dosages of around 7 mg, Zelenak said.
“Because it’s a new ingredient, we have been focusing a lot of our efforts on the supply side, which means developing reliable processes to harvest the berries and ensure quality control from field to freezer,” he said. “We have been working with a couple of researchers and some people at food labs like Cornell and Rutgers to convert the raw material into a few minimum viable products.”
To produce the puree (with or without seeds), the berries are picked fresh, cleaned, vacuum-sealed, frozen and ground before they’re high-pressure processed to preserve the taste and nutritional profile of the fruit while extending its shelf life.
“We’ve developed an interstate network of wild harvesting operations. We have also created a trial operation for cultivar development using traditional (non GMO) plant breeding techniques,” Zelenak said.
Source: Journal of Functional Foods
Volume 16, Pages 305–314
“Phenolic and tocopherol content of autumn olive (Elaeagnus umbellate) berries”
Authors: Ruisong Pei, Mo Yu, Richard Bruno, Bradley W. Bolling