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Prickly Pear Seed Oil
The PPSO has been extracted from prickly pear seeds using different extraction techniques, from conventional to advanced, and the PPSO yield varied depending on many factors, including geographic region, harvest period, fruit variety, maturation, extraction method and type of extraction solvent. Based on physicochemical properties of PPSO, it is considered an edible oil and can be used by humans. The chemical characterization of the oil has been reported, and it is sufficiently understood that the PPSO has high nutritive value and can be further studied for its health promotion effects.
The growing demand for nutraceuticals and functional foods is paralleled by an increased effort in developing natural products for the prevention or treatment of human diseases. According to several studies, prickly pear seed oil (PPSO) contains high values of important nutrients that make the PPSO an excellent candidate for inclusion in food and healthy products; however, more research is needed to establish new pharmacological possibilities for its further future development and application. Unsaturated fatty acids are the main component of the oil, accounting for up to 80.9%. However, the main unsaturated fatty acids are linoleic and oleic acids .
The PPSO is reported to have several biological activities, including antioxidant in vivo  and in vitro  , antimicrobial , antidiabetic , lipid-lowering , in vitro anticancer , anti-inflammatory , anti-ulcer  and UV radiation protection of human dermic fibroblasts reducing the cell death . Based on the literature, the oil content in prickly pear seeds is considered low compared to other seeds and the extracted oil is commercialized mainly for cosmetics due to the high price resulting from the time-consuming and laborious process of production . Analysis and physicochemical properties of the PPSO showed that it is edible and suitable for human consumption.
2. Prickly Pear Seed Oil Extraction and Yield
Due to the multiple health benefits of PPSO, an extraction process to preserve the quality of PPSO is of prime importance and thus should receive continuous attention from researchers. Based on the previous studies, PPSO was extracted using conventional extraction methods, such as Soxhlet and cold press, and alternative advanced extraction methods, such as supercritical carbon dioxide. Different extraction processes were also applied in PPSO extraction, including maceration, autoclave, microwave and ultrasound-assisted extraction. However, conventional methods using Soxhlet extraction are the most reported methods in the literature, while limited studies have reported the used of advanced extraction methods. Based on the previous studies, the oil yield was found to be varied depending on the prickly pear cultivar in the first place and second on the extraction process. Several factors, including geographical origin, harvest period, fruit ripeness and extraction solvents are also included .
Moreover, the yield of PPSO varies depending on the extraction time applied from the same location, for example, when PPSO was extracted from prickly pear seeds from Algeria with n -hexane using the Soxhlet system, the yield of PPSO was 10.45 ± 0.10% when the extraction was carried out for 18 h , and the yield was 7.3–9.3% when the extraction was carried out for 9 h . In contrast, the oil yield in Tunisian prickly pear seeds was approximately similar when the variation of the extraction time applied was low, and when the PPSO was extracted with n -hexane using the Soxhlet extractor for 10 h, the yield was reported to be 11.75% . A similar PPSO yield (11%) was reported in another study by  of Tunisian PPSO extracted with n -hexane in a Soxhlet extractor for 9 h. However, a different Tunisian PPSO yield was reported between the PPSO extracted from seeds of wild prickly pear (10.32%) compared to cultivated prickly pear (8.91%) .
Few studies have reported the use of innovative methods such as supercritical fluid extraction, microwave extraction and ultrasound extraction in PPSO extraction. However, it is expected that they will be widely used for PPSO in the near future due to the importance of the health-promoting qualities of PPSO.
In addition, the extraction of PPSO using supercritical fluid extraction at different pressures ranging from 100 to 500 bar and different temperatures of 35–50 °C at a carbon dioxide flow rate of 50 g/min was reported with a yield of 6.5% . In this context, a supercritical fluid extraction method in comparison with the Soxhlet method was applied to PPSO extract from two Tunisian prickly pear seed types—the spiny (wild) and thornless (cultivated) . Supercritical fluid extraction was carried out at different temperatures of 35, 40, 45, 50, 60, and 70 °C, fixed pressure at 180 bar, and 15 mL/s of CO 2 flow rate for 135 min. The results of the optimized temperature in supercritical fluid extraction showed that a higher yield was obtained at 40 °C. Results obtained from this study show a significantly higher yield of 10.32% (wild) and 8.91% in Soxhlet with n -hexane compared to supercritical fluid extraction yielding 3.4% (spiny) and 1.94% (thornless) . Green cactus pear seed oil was extracted using ultrasounds with an obtained yield of 3.75–6% . The recovered extract obtained with supercritical fractionation of the defatted seeds of the prickly pear from Algerian Opuntia ficus - indica was rich in antioxidants catechin, epicatechin, and ferulic acid, which are known to be good for human health .
3. Characteristics of Prickly Pear Seed Oil
Few studies have reported the physicochemical properties of PPSO, including peroxide value, iodine value, acidity index, refractive index and saponification value. Physicochemical characteristics of PPSO, as reported in the literature, are summarized in Table 1 .
|Physical state at room temperature||NR||NR||Liquid||Liquid||NR|
|Color||NR||NR||Greenish yellow||Yellow brown||NR|
|Density at 20 °C (mass/volume)||NR||0.92 ± 0.01||0.91 ± 0.001||0.91 ± 0.01||0.90 ± 0.0|
|Refractive index at 20 °C||NR||1.47 ± 0.010||1.5 ± 0.001||1.48 ± 0.01||1.5 ± 0.0|
|Acid index||1.26 ± 0.5
3.02 ± 0.5
|21.2 ± 0.5||1.95 ± 0.03||1.82 ± 0.01||NR|
(meq O2/kg of oil)
|3.5 ± 1.5
8.6 ± 2.5
|12.0 ± 0.4||2.23 ± 0.06||NR||NR|
(g I2/100 g of oil)
|131.5 ± 0.5
32 ± 0.3
|NR||108.52 ± 0.25||93.45 ± 0.22||101.5 ± 1.0|
|Saponification index (mg of KOH/g oil)||NR||NR||171.40 ± 0.43||177.10 ± 0.05||169.0 ± 0.1|
|2.8 ± 0.5
3.25 ± 0.5
|0.08 ± 0.010||NR||NR||NR|
|K270||0.51 ± 0.5
2.11 ± 0.5
|0.13 ± 0.020||NR||NR||NR|
Recently, the chemical and physical parameters of PPSO extracted by two different solvents—2-MeO and n -hexane—were reported . The oil extracted by 2-MeO showed a higher acidity index (3.02 ± 0.5, g/100 g) compared to the n -hexane extracted oil (1.26 ± 0.5 g/100 g). The peroxide value was found to be high in the two different solvents (3.5 ± 1.5 in hexane oil and 8.6 ± 2.5 in 2-MeO), which can be an indicator for primary fat oxidation . Additionally, the physicochemical characteristics of PPSO extracted with n -hexane using a Soxhlet apparatus were not different from the study of Gharby et al. , where the acid value was 1.82 ± 0.01, iodine value was 93.45 ± 0.22 (g of I2/100 g of oil), saponification value was 177.10 ± 0.05 (mg of KOH/g of oil), density was 2.04 ± 0.05 at 20 °C (mass/volume), and the refractive index was 0.909 ± 0.01, with a yellow-brown color .
In this context, the physicochemical characteristics of PPSO extracted with n -hexane in a Soxhlet extractor showed PPSO with a density of 0.903 ± 0.002, the refractive and iodine indices reported as 1.475 ± 0.002 at 20 °C. 101.5 ± 1.0, respectively, while the saponification index (mg of KOH/g oil) was 169.0 ± 0.1 . In addition, the physicochemical characteristics of PPSO extracted by first cold pressing did not differ much from other studies previously mentioned: the PPSO was found to have a greenish-yellow-colored liquid, a density of 0.905 ± 0.001 at 20 °C, an acid index of 1.952 ± 0.034, an iodine index of 108.52 ± 0.250 (g I2/100 g oil), a peroxide index of 2.230 ± 0.061 (meq O 2/kg oil), a saponification index of 171.40 ± 0.430 (mg KOH/g oil), and a refractive index at 20 °C of 1.475 ± 0.001 . However, the physical and chemical parameters of PPSO oil from Algeria extracted by cold pressing showed different results compared to other studies. The PPSO had an acidity of 21.2 ± 0.5 mg/g of oil (expressed as % of oleic acid), and the author explained the high acidity due to enzymatic hydrolysis during harvesting or the handling process. The peroxide value was found to be 12.0 ± 0.4 meq O 2/Kg. Compared to other studies on PPSO, the peroxide value reported in this study was also higher . The authors have explained the elevated peroxide value as a result of unsatisfactory conditions used during the oil preparation.
4. Chemical Characterization of the Prickly Pear Seed Oil
From different reported studies, various factors have an influence on fatty acid content, including prickly pear variety, geographical location, methods and solvents used for oil extraction, cultivar, degree of maturity, and harvesting season. Recently, the fatty acid composition of the oil extracted by two different solvents using 2-MeO and n -hexane were found to be similar ; linoleic acid was the major fatty acid constituting up to 62%, followed by oleic acid (21%), linolenic acid (0.3%) with 84% counting as unsaturated fatty acid. Saturated fatty acid represented 16%, with palmitic acid counting as 11.70% and stearic acid 3.14% . However, fatty acid content, especially linolenic acid and oleic acid, was found to be different depending on the extraction method. The fatty acids of PPSO were extracted from eight varieties of prickly pear from Mexico using two different methods—cold press and maceration . The cold hydraulic press method showed slightly higher fatty acid contents when compared to the maceration method, where the oil analysis showed that linoleic acid was in the range of 66.5–76.1 and 60.5–78.8, followed by oleic acid in the range of 9.3–19.9 and 11.5–19.9 for hydraulic press and maceration methods, respectively.
Although, for most reported studies from different varieties and different locations, the main fatty acids were linoleic and oleic acids, and the content of fatty acid was different. Moreover, differences were found in the oil composition of the PPSO derived from various places. In this context, the fatty acids analysis of PPSO extracted from seven Spanish prickly pear cultivars showed differences between fatty acid content in different varieties, which were attributed to genetic factors . The major fatty acid was linoleic (57.72–63.11%), followed by oleic acid (19.37–21.79%), linolenic acid (0.23–1.10%), palmitic acid (12.47–15.06%) and stearic acid (2.56–4.10%). In this regard, the analysis of fatty acid of PPSO from different places in Morocco showed unsaturated fatty acids of 83.0%, where the major fatty acids were linoleic acid (60.2–64.6 g/100 g), oleic acid (18.2–22.3 g/100 g), linolenic acid (0.3 g/100 g), and palmitic acid (11.6–12.4 g/100 g) . In addition, fatty acid content was varied due to time collection from different locations and provinces of Turkey . The unsaturated fatty acids included mainly linoleic (49.3–62.1%), oleic acid (13.0–23.5%) and vaccenic acids (5.0–6.3%). Saturated fatty acids mainly include palmitic acid contents of seed oils (10.6–12.8%) and stearic acid (3.3–5.4%).
Geographical location also has an impact on fatty acid content of PPSO, especially the content of linoleic acid, even though the PPSO is extracted with the same method. A study on the fatty acid profile of Algerian PPSO extracted by cold press indicated that Algerian PPSO contains linoleic acid (49.7–56.1%), oleic acid (15.6–19.3%), vaccenic acid (4.30%) and α-linolenic acid (0.24%). Saturated fatty acid mainly includes palmitic acid (10.08%) and stearic acid (2.97%) . Fatty acid composition of Egyptian PPSO extracted with methanol in a Soxhlet apparatus showed that linoleic acid was found to be the major unsaturated fatty acid (54.03%), followed by oleic acid (22.41%) and linolenic acid (0.63%); whereas, the major saturated fatty acid was palmitic acid (17.11%) and stearic acid (3.5%) . However, the fatty acid content of Tunisian PPSO extracted using the cold press method as well was found to contain higher linoleic acid (61.6%) and higher oleic acid (21.18%). Linolenic acid was counted as 0.2%. Furthermore, the saturated fatty acids were higher, representing 16%, which included palmitic acid (12.2%) and stearic acid (3.3%) . In this context, the fatty acid composition of PPSO from Sicilian yellow fruit extracted from the seeds using cold pressing was in the range of the reported studies. Unsaturated fatty acids represent 83.79%, with 58% linoleic acid content, 18% oleic acid, 6.29% vaccenic acid, and 0.3% arachidic acid. Saturated fatty acids counted for 16.31%, where palmitic acid content of 12% and stearic acid of 4% were the major ones . The results from this study also reported that the oil obtained in Sicily contained significant amounts of some unsaturated fatty acids, which have been known for their health-benefiting properties, including trans-13-octadecenoic, 7Z, 10Zhexadecadienoic, and gadoleic acid.
Geographical location with a different extraction method has an effect on the fatty acid composition; in this regard, analyses of fatty acid composition in PPSO from prickly pear seeds cultivated in Yemen extracted using the maceration method with n -hexane was investigated  and unsaturated fatty acids were found to be the majority of fatty acid content, representing up to 81% in oil with linoleic acid content of 57.5% and oleic acid content of 22.30%. On the other hand, the major saturated fatty acids of PPSO were palmitic (14%) acid and stearic acid (3%). In this regard, a high percentage of unsaturated fatty acids was reported in the PPSO from Tunisia extracted using n -hexane with a Soxhlet system in which linoleic acid was the major component making up 70%, followed by 17% oleic acid. Saturated fatty acid represents 12.4%, and palmitic acids (9%) and stearic (3%) were the major saturated fatty acids . Moreover, it was found that the fatty acid content of PPSO varied due to different locations and provinces of Turkey, and also, based on the time collection, the content of linoleic ranged from 49.3 to 62.1%, oleic acid from 13.0 to 23.5% and vaccenic acids from 5.0 to 6.3%. Saturated fatty acids mainly include palmitic acid contents of seed oils of 10.6–12.8% and stearic acid 3.3–5.4% .
5. Potential Health Benefits of Prickly Pear Seeds Oil
5.1. Antioxidant Activity of Prickly Pear Seeds Oil
5.2. Antimicrobial Activity of Prickly Pear Seeds Oil
5.3. The Antidiabetic Properties of Prickly Pear Seeds Oil
5.4. Effect of Prickly Pear Seed Oil on Lipid Profile and Cholesterol Regulation
5.5. Cytotoxic and Apoptotic Effects of Prickly Pear Seed Oil
5.6. Anti-Inflammatory Effect of Prickly Pear Seed Oil
5.7. Anti-Ulcer Activity of Prickly Pear Seed Oil
5.8. The Effect of Prickly Pear Seed Oil against UV-C Radiation
The entry is from 10.3390/molecules26165018
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