Camu-camu (Myrciaria dubia (Kunth) McVaugh), also known as caçari and araçá d’água, is a tropical fruit belonging to the Myrtaceae family, often found in flooded regions of the Amazon rainforest . Its round berries are about 2.5 cm in diameter, containing one to four seeds. The fruit possess a red-to-purple bright pericarp and a very tart acid, juicy, and pink mesocarp . A member of the so-called group of super fruits, camu-camu is known by its superlative ascorbic acid content (up to 2.780 mg per 100 g of fresh fruit) and by its content of other bioactive molecules such as anthocyanins (cyanidin-3-O-glucoside and delphinidin-3-O-glucoside), flavonols (myricetin, quercetin), ellagic acid, ellagitannins, proanthocyanidins, and carotenoids (lutein, β-carotene, violaxanthin and luteoxanthin) [1,3,4]. These phytochemicals display neutralizing properties of reactive species related to anti-obesogenic, hypolipidemic, anti-inflammatory, anti-genotoxic, and neuroprotective outcomes have been verified in in vitro and in vivo experiments, as well as clinical trials [4,5,6,7,8].
Myrciaria dubia is economically relevant to the Amazon region, as it grows in low-value areas that are usually inadequate for crops of other species . Due to its very high acidity, the camu-camu fruit is not consumed in natura. Instead, it is used in the form of juices, purees, and mostly pulp, applied in beverage production and as a food ingredient [5,9]. The industrial processing of M. dubia pulp generates by-products, which create an environmental problem. Considering that up to 40% of the fruit mass is composed of seeds and peels, in the past years, studies have been carried out, aiming to reduce the environmental impact and economically exploit these abundant by-products. There has been previous work on the biological activities of camu-camu by-products , including its anticancer potential , as well as on strategies for the recovery of polyphenols from these materials .
Natural extracts with antioxidant properties can be employed as substitutes for artificial additives and also display a potential role in the prevention of diseases related to oxidative stress . In the same way, the antimicrobial properties of some active phytochemicals could delay or inhibit the growth of pathogenic and/or toxin-producing microorganisms in food, thus avoiding both foodborne diseases and food spoilage . Therefore, natural extracts can combine the functions of preservative and functionalizing additive, while simultaneously improving the food stability and nutritional value .
Following the sustainability principles implemented in today’s society, new high-added-value compounds are being recovered from agri-food by-products and applied in the development of food ingredients with preserving capacity, thereby promoting resource-use efficiency and circularity . Despite the functional attributes verified for the M. dubia by-products [9,11,16,17], their exploitation as food additives is still very limited .
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- Fidelis M., Moura C., Kabbas Junior T., Pap N., Mattila P., Mäkinen S., Putnik P., Bursać Kovačević D., Tian Y., Yang B., et al. Fruit seeds as sources of bioactive compounds: sustainable production of high value-added ingredients from by-products within circular economy. Molecules. 2019;24:3854. doi: 10.3390/molecules24213854.
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- Kaneshima T., Myoda T., Nakata M., Fujimori T., Toeda K., Nishizawa M. Antioxidant activity of C-Glycosidic ellagitannins from the seeds and peel of camu-camu (Myrciaria dubia) LWT - Food Sci. Technol. 2016;69:76–81. doi: 10.1016/j.lwt.2016.01.024.
- Kaneshima T., Myoda T., Toeda K., Fujimori T., Nishizawa M. Antimicrobial constituents of peel and seeds of camu-camu (Myrciaria dubia) Biosci. Biotechnol. Biochem. 2017