RIVERSIDE, Calif. You pick up a bottle of pomegranate juice at the store because you've learned that, although it costs more than most juices, it is replete with antioxidants that bring health benefits. But wait: Is the juice you've purchased really pomegranate juice? Or is the product label you have carefully read promising more than it delivers?
A chemist at the University of California, Riverside is determined to find out. Cynthia Larive, a professor of chemistry, is playing detective by applying chemical tests to juice products sold as pomegranate juice or pomegranate juice blends, in order to authenticate their contents.
"We are measuring levels of unique compounds in pomegranate juice and are able to use this 'molecular fingerprint' to discriminate against adulterated juice products," said Larive, whose research on pomegranate juice is being funded by a nearly $50,000 one-year grant from Pom Wonderful, a company that grows and markets pomegranates and pomegranate-based products.
In the lab, Larive and her graduate student Daniel Orr are measuring levels of different biochemicals, called small-molecule metabolites, present in juices. To make their measurements, the researchers are using nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, liquid chromatography-mass spectroscopy, and gas chromatography-mass spectroscopy three methods that together allow them to measure amino acids, organic acids, sugars, pomegranate pigment compounds, as well as health-producing antioxidant molecules that are unique to pomegranate juice.
"We have received a collection of pomegranate samples from around the world, as well as commercial juices such as beet, grape, apple and pear to name just a few," Larive said. "We're looking at whether or not our molecular fingerprint method
|Contact: Iqbal Pittalwala|
University of California - Riverside