What is it about?

Edible palm hearts (EPH) or known as palmito, chonta or swamp cabbage in America countries, or “umbut” in Malaysia is a type of vegetable harvested from palm tree species. The EPH is appeared firm and smooth and described to have a flavor resembling the artichoke which have underlying prebiotic potential that selectively stimulate the growth and activity of beneficial colonic microbiota, thus enhancing the host's health. This study is the first to present results of EPH from local species such as oil palm (Elaeis guineensis), sago palm (Metroxylon sagu) and coconut (Cocos nucifera) using in vitro colonic fermentation with human faecal. Samples obtained at 0, 6, 12 and 24 hours were evaluated by bacterial enumeration using fluorescent in situ hybridisation (FISH) and short-chain fatty acid (SCFA) by High-Performances Liquid Chromatograph (HPLC).

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Why is it important?

In recent years, due to growing worldwide concern on the alarming evolution of disease-causing microbes, the interest in finding alternative sources for prebiotic ingredients has been increased. Along with the effort in development of new direction towards propagation of local prebiotic crops, the exploitation of health benefits can be achieved through improvement in the investigation on their potential pharmacological properties and as specific functional food ingredients. Scientific demonstrations from this work may lead to the appreciation of local crops i.e. as an industrial commodity crop.

Perspectives

This project can help to fill the knowledge gap of our current understanding and potential properties of palm heart that might improve the nation's health and socioeconomic status. For the future direction of this project, the complete scientific data on prebiotic and pharmaceutical properties of palm hearts might provide better health benefits specifically for various chronic diseases.

Lee-Ling Chai

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This page is a summary of: An in vitro study: Prebiotic Effects of Edible Palm Hearts in Batch Human Fecal Fermentation System, Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, June 2022, Wiley, DOI: 10.1002/jsfa.12088.
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