FNRB - Gently Extracting Watermelon's Healthful Lycopene

water melonWatermelon, besides being fun to eat, is an excellent source of lycopene--a red-pigmented antioxidant thought to guard against heart disease and some cancers.

Now, an ARS researcher based in Lane, Okla., has developed a new technique that makes it easier to extract lycopene from watermelon flesh and juice.

Users can avoid damaging the fragile membranes of the tiny structures—organelles—that protect the lycopene. This gentle approach yields lycopene that is more stable and thus has a longer shelf life.

Lycopene can be processed into a powder, paste or liquid suitable for use as a nutrition supplement or food coloring.

ARS is seeking a patent for the method, which might also be used to extract lycopene from tomatoes, guava, rose hips and pink grapefruit.