Red Pepper Seeds Loaded with Antioxidants

Summary
A research study from the Republic of Korea has assessed the antioxidant activity of the pericarp (or the flesh and peel) and the seed extracts of red peppers. Using different methods of assessment, the researchers reported that seed extracts as well as the pericarp have high antioxidant quality, with the pericarp having higher antioxidant activity. However, in some areas, the antioxidant activity of seeds was complementary to that of the pericarp, scavenging those free radicals that were not cleared by the pericarp. Both pericarp and the seed extract were found to have high concentration of various antioxidant substances like phenolics and flavonoids.

Introduction
Antioxidants are useful micronutrients that protect our cells from free radicals that are molecules produced by our body when it breaks down food. The current demand for natural antioxidants is higher because synthetic antioxidants are known to have many toxic effects including causing cancer. Red pepper, a common ingredient in Asian dishes, is known to have antioxidant properties. This is often added to meat and meat products to add flavor. The researchers studied the antioxidant capabilities of pericarp (outer layer and flesh) and the seeds of red pepper through chemical analysis. The authors also measured the concentrations of different antioxidant compounds in these extracts.

Methodology
* Extracts of different concentrations of red pepper pericarp and red pepper seeds were prepared.
* These were mixed with various solutions containing chemicals like diphenyl picrylhydrazyl* (DPPH), superoxide anion, hydroxyl, and azino-bis ethylbenzthiazoline sulphonic acid* (ABTS), and the scavenging ability of the extracts was assessed.
* The researchers also assessed iron-chelating ability and some other antioxidant abilities of the extracts.
* The level of antioxidants like phenolics and flavonoids was also measured in the extracts.

Results
* Both pericarp and seed extracts had high antioxidant activity. However, pericarp scored higher on antioxidant activity, as compared to seed extracts.
* Antioxidant activity of both extracts increased with increasing concentrations.
* Pericarp had better antioxidant activity for DPPH scavenging, iron chelating, and hydroxyl scavenging, while seed extracts showed better results for superoxide anion scavenging and for superoxide dismutase activity
* Red pepper pericarp was found to have higher phenolic and flavonoid content than seed extracts.

Next steps/Shortcomings
The study was conducted with the help of chemicals. It needs to be replicated in living organisms so that a better understanding of the antioxidant effects of red pepper can be seen. Also, more research is needed to identify specific phenolics and flavonoids in the seeds and pericarp of red pepper.

Conclusion
The study on the seed and pericarp extracts of red pepper has demonstrated that both constituents of the much-used food additive have high antioxidant activities. It has also shown that the seeds need not be thrown as waste. The seeds also have good antioxidant abilities. Even though the antioxidant abilities of pepper seed are less than those of the pericarp, they deserve attention as they are complementary to the pericarp. The study recommends that red pepper seed waste can be used for meat and meat products. The research also shows that both the pericarp and seed extracts have quite high levels of antioxidants like phenolics and flavonoids.

For More Information:
Antioxidant Activities of Red Pepper (Capsicum annuum) Pericarp and Seed Extracts
International Journal of Food Science and Technology, 2008
By Sim Ki Hyeon; Sil Han Young; Sookmyung Women’s University, Seoul, Republic of Korea

*FYI Living Lab Reports Are Summaries of the Original Research.
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