May 28, 2017

Tree Leaves—for Colour and Functional Ingredients

fall-leaf-change-colourResearchers at VTT Technical Research Centre in Finland are currently exploring a process allows for the extraction of natural colourants and nutritional compounds from fallen leaves that would otherwise be burned or composted.

Leaves in autumn contain various pigments—from orange and yellow carotenoids to red anthocyanins. They also contain carbohydrates, proteins and compounds that might help inhibit the growth of harmful bacteria. These components could potentially be extracted and made suitable for use in foods, preservatives and nutritional supplements.

Different tree species have different chemical compositions which could provide various beneficial compounds.

Carbohydrates left over from the extracted residue for example, could be used in conjunction with protein-rich livestock feed or with protein supplements for consumers.

Although tea leaves have been consumed worldwide for the longest time, tree leaves have not often been considered as food. Leaf-derived products may very well find their way into the food chain in the very near future. Stay posted.