A new paper in the Journal of Food Science says the buffaloberry could be the next super food du jour because it contains large amounts of lycopene and a related acidic compound, methyl-lycopenoate, which are important antioxidants and nutrients beneficial for human health.
The bright red fruit has a tart flavor, and was historically used as a source of nutrients for Native Americans. The sugar and acidity of the fruit make it desirable as a fresh or dried product.
In addition to its potential health benefits, lycopenoate may also be used as a natural food colorant. Recently the buffaloberry has drawn attention from several commercial wine producers.
The tree on which the fruit grows is a member of the olive family native to Western North America and is found on many Indian reservations, often where little else grows well.
The findings of the study suggest that buffaloberry might be successfully grown as a new commercial crop on American Indian reservations; one which would be a good source of nutrition as well as providing a viable new product in an area in need of economic development.