2022 February 18

Lemon by-products gives way to supplements and nutraceuticals against cardiovascular risk

ENEA, in association with the Innovative Start-Up Navhetec and Agrumaria Corleone, has patented an innovative method able to transform lemon-processing by-products into food supplements and nutraceuticals that can be used in the prevention of several diseases such as obesity, hypercholesterolemia and cardiovascular disorders. The innovation is based on the use of ‘membrane separation’ technology, developed by ENEA, combined with subsequent encapsulation and drying phases through the technology of spray-drying: in this way, nanovesicles are obtained from the by-products obtained during lemon processing. These are tiny spheres rich in bioactive compounds such as nucleic acids, polyphenols, lipids and proteins.

Several in vivo and in vitro studies conducted by Navhetec back in 2015 already showed a strong effect in reducing the growth of tumor cells, while ongoing studies are highlighting their anti- inflammatory properties. Furthermore, in 2019, following experimentation of the patented system on several healthy volunteers, a reduction of several cardiovascular risk factors emerged, such as LDL-cholesterol and waist circumference.

The patent is also applicable to other plant matrices and allows to obtain a product that is easy to dose and use, with a high stability and shelf-life, easy to transfer on an industrial scale, with reduced costs and production times compared to the traditional ultracentrifugation techniques.

“The patent, also useful for the formulation of foods and beverages with nutraceutical properties, points out Paola Sangiorgio, researcher of the Bioproducts and Bioprocesses Laboratory of the ENEA Research Centre of Trisaia.

The initiative falls within the scope of the research and development activities of ENEA for the improvement and sustainability of production processes and the application of the principles of circular economy using agro-food by-products to obtain new and intermediate materials for use in the food and non-food sectors.

Agrumaria Corleone, partner of Navhetec since 2015, immediately believed and collaborated in the project, making available the facilities and its expertise.