A study published in the Journal of Food Science shows that an underutilized berry called the buffaloberry could be the new super fruit, due to its large amounts of lycopene and a related acidic compound, methyl-lycopenoate.
The researchers examined the constituents in the fruit of seven Dakota-grown buffaloberry selections. Primary carotenoids were determined by liquid chromatography/mass spectral analysis and by nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy to be lycopene and methyl apo-6’-lycopenoate (MA6L). MA6L comprised the greatest proportion (55%) of carotenoid antioxidants, but its role in human nutrition is still to be evaluated. The fruit contained high total phenolics concentrations.
The bright red fruit has a tart flavor, and has historically been used as a source of nutrients for many Native Americans. The sugar and acidity of the fruit make it desirable as a fresh or dried product. In addition to its potential health benefits, lycopenoate may also be used as a natural food colorant. Recently, the buffaloberry has drawn attention from several commercial wine producers.
The tree on which the fruit grows is a member of the olive family native to Western North America and is found on many Indian reservations, often where little else grows well. The findings of the study suggest that buffaloberry might be successfully grown as a new commercial crop on American Indian reservations; one which would be a good source of nutrition as well as providing a viable new product in an area in need of economic development.