March 2/Bihar, India/The Times of India -- Scientists at the MACS-Agharkar Research Institute (ARI) have identified the presence of prebiotics in mangoes and grapes. The prebiotic level was found to be particularly high in one particular Indian mango variety.
Prebiotics are non-digestible foods that help beneficial bacteria grow and flourish in the human body. The good bacteria, or probiotics, help ward off diseases. Prebiotics are basically food for probiotics and are known to displace intestinal pathogen.
The ARI scientists, in a study spanning over 10 years, explored about 90 indigenous fruits and edible plants for their potential to grow friendly bacteria in the digestive system. The study was conducted under a project funded by the Union government's department of biotechnology (DBT). Twelve varieties of mango were studied by two senior ARI scientists, Vaishali Agte of the biometry and nutrition department and Smita Nilegaonkar of the microbiology department.
Asked whether prebiotics from mangoes were tested on common bugs like E coli, which cause medical conditions like dysentery, Agte said, "Our study showed that beneficial bacteria L rhamnosus, which is grown in a medium containing mango, helped reduce the presence of E coli. The results indicate promising potential for mango varieties as a source of prebiotics."
Agte said that so far, studies have been carried out on insulins and fructooligosaccharides (FOS) from chicory, wheat and fruits. "Most of the research on prebiotic-rich products has been on food materials of western origin. The potential of indigenous fruits and plants as a rich prebiotic source remained unexplored. This is for the first time in India that scientists have explored about 90 Indian fruits and plant materials for their prebiotic potential," she claimed.
Commenting on the role of probiotics in preventing and treating diseases, senior gastroenterologist Parimal Lawate said, "If you have a large number of these friendly bacteria in your body, then the inner lining of the intestines remain healthy and help prevent diseases like inflammatory bowel disease, antibiotic-related diseases and irritable bowel syndrome."
Among prebiotics, the most widely commercialized and studied ones are FOS, which consist of a mixture of various sugars. These selectively promote probiotic bacterial species like lactobacilli and bifidobacteria, which maintain the balance of intestinal microflora.
So far, mangoes have been known for their high calorie and carbohydrate content. Now, one more dimension of the fruit as a prebiotic material has come to light. "We have studied the biodiversity in the prebiotic potential of 12 different varieties of mango. Five different types of prebiotics were grown in a special medium to study the growth of lactobacillus, a friendly bacteria. The growth results indicated a large variability in the prebiotic potential in different mango varieties. The nutritional preparation (synbiotic) made of the prebiotics derived from an Indian variety of mango and a friendly bacteria (probiotics) lactobacillus rhamnosus was the best in the study," Nilegaonkar said.
The work was presented by Agte, Nilegaonkar and their student, Manjushree Gawane, at the 6th Nutra India Summit held at World Health Centre, Mumbai, from February 15-18. The scientists will now initiate talks with nutraceutical companies for technology transfer.
From the March 7, 2011, Prepared Foods E-dition