Retention levels of vegetable extractable beta-carotene preserved in virgin coconut oil and unadulterated honey
Mungai, Z. M.
Nawiri, M. P.
Nyambaka, H. N.
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Dark green leafy vegetables such as Amaranthus spp. are known to be good sources of beta-carotene, a pro-vitamin A carotenoid with highly potent antioxidant property. As an antioxidant, beta-carotene scavenges for electron and thus terminates chain reactions, prevents recurrence and formation of unstable oxygen which otherwise initiate a chain reaction leading to such cases as cancer. While beta-carotene is supplied from consuming vegetables to provide vitamin A, it is also given as a supplement in cases of deficiency. However, it is highly degraded in the presence of light, heat, and oxygen posing a challenge to the methods of its preservation. Coconut oil and honey are popularly consumed in many countries facing vitamin A deficiency as good antioxidants and yet their role in preservation is largely unknown. The study reports the retention of beta-carotene extracted from Amaranthus spp. and separately preserved in virgin coconut oil (VCO) and unadulterated honey for up to six months. HPLC and DPPH assay were used to determine beta-carotene and antioxidant activity respectively. Virgin coconut oil and honey had significantly different (p<0.001) antioxidant activities of 65.12±0.70 and 81.51±1.39 % radical scavenging activity respectively that compared well with those of BHT and ascorbic acid. The concentration of beta-carotene preserved in VCO and unadulterated honey degraded by 90%, though the final retention provided higher than the recommended daily allowance of retinol (0.216±0.001 and 0.312±0.003 retinol activity equivalent respectively) when 100 mg is consumed. Virgin coconut oil and unadulterated honey can preserve beta-carotene if high amounts are used.