Presentday Cultivation And Usage

In Europe, AH is so widespread that intensive cultivation is unnecessary. The fruits harvested from wild plants are sufficient for industrial processes. The most important usages are in the field of health products (in herboristic remedies and pharmaceutical formulations). The seed extracts are also used as formulating agents in various cosmetic applications, such as shampoos, shower foams, creams, lotions, and toothpastes (Thornfeldt, 2005).

It should be noted that some other varieties of Aesculaceae growing in Asian countries (A. indica and A. turbinata Blume) are more suitable for human consumption, following some preliminary preparation. For example, the seeds from A. indica represent a foodstuff still largely consumed by local populations (Parmar & Kaushal, 1982). The starch contained within the seeds (~40% in fresh fruits, ratio amylopectin: amylose y 3:1) is blended with other flours, after removal of its bitter taste due to saponins by extended soaking in water.

Horse chestnuts: chemical composition and characterization

The chemical characterization of the seeds of genus Aesculus is rather incomplete. The literature provides partial information, with many papers being standpoints of excellence in this field.

The composition of AH seeds can be summarized as follows. The main classes of components are:

• starch and non-starch saccharides

• proteins (Azarkovich & Gumilevskaya, 2006)

• lipids (essential oils)

Among minor compounds, the following classes are the most important bioactively:

• escin (saponin and sapogenin fractions), which are the most abundant

• coumarin-derived compounds (aesculin, fraxin, and scopolin, among others)

• tannins (leucocyanidine, proanthocyanidin A2)

• non-protein nitrogen compounds (i.e., adenine, adenosine, guanine, uric acid)

• vitamin-B complex, methionine, and holine

Escin is a generic mixture of saponins (triterpenoid glycosides) and sapogenins. The latter family is more complex, having two molecular groups, triterpenic and steroydic (Figure 76.1), which show a different basic structure and are variously substituted.

Typically, different classes of the main bioactive principles are present in different organs and parts of Aesculaceae: escin fractions predominate in the seeds, essential oils in the leaves and flowers, tannins and coumarin-derived compounds in the bark. In addition, the crude extracts of the seeds contain significant amounts of some other families of different compounds, such as condensed tannins (mainly flavonoids), and sterols (Stankovic et al., 1984).

The oils extracted from seeds generally contain both saponifiable and unsaponifiable matter. The unsaponifiable constituents of horse chestnut still remain largely unidentified. Although they represent a very small fraction of the essential oil, approximately 2—3% (equivalent to 0.08—0.15% on the dry-meal basis), they include sterols, triterpenes, aliphatic alcohols, vitamins, chlorophylls, and pigments, among others.

Hricoviniova and Babor (1991) analyzed the saccharide constituents of different parts of AH seeds. They reported that starch, arabinans, and glucoarabinans are the main constituents of the cotyledon. A series of monosaccharides (D-glucose, L-arabinose, D-glucuronic acid, D-xylose, D-galactose, and fucose) were found in the hydrolyzed extract of the seeds. Episperm, the external protective cellulosic layer, mainly contains xylans, associated to glucoxylans.

FIGURE 76.1

Base structure of (A) triterpenic and (B) steroydic groups, the most representative molecular families of sapogenins.

Triterpenic and steroydic molecular structures, variously substituted and derivatized, are the main components of the sapogenins family present in Aesculaceae seeds.

FIGURE 76.1

Base structure of (A) triterpenic and (B) steroydic groups, the most representative molecular families of sapogenins.

Triterpenic and steroydic molecular structures, variously substituted and derivatized, are the main components of the sapogenins family present in Aesculaceae seeds.

Because of the scarcity of experimental data regarding the chemical composition of AH seeds, in a recent paper we partially characterized these natural products by applying some analytical techniques (Baraldi et al., 2007). We compared the seeds of the two most common Mediterranean varieties: the pure species (AHP, with white flowers), and a hybrid species (AHH, with soft pink flowers). Some specific information on the morphological structure of the seeds was also obtained. Surface analysis by SEM-EDS (Figure 76.2) showed no significant differences in the meal samples (wild-type) from the two different botanical origins. Both of them appear to be composed of a complex matrix in which platelet-form starch particles are dispersed. However, thermal analysis (TG, DSC) has outlined some significant differences between them. Study of the analytical composition reveals some differences in residual moisture, protein, lipid, glucide, and ash contents. Probably these fractions modulate other undifferentiated chemical parameters, such as Cold Water Solubility (CWS), and Total Inorganic Soluble Salts (TISS). The quantitative results are summarized in Table 76.1.

For comparison purposes, the last column of Table 76.1 summarizes some analytical data reported by Parmar and Kaushal (1982) regarding the composition of A. indica seeds. Unfortunately, only limited data of this type are available in the literature. As far as the total glucidic content in A. indica is concerned, 11.0% (9.1% reducing and 1.9% non-reducing

FIGURE 76.2

SEM images (x 5000) of flour samples (wild type) of seeds of different botanical origin: (A) AHP, (B) AHH. SEM images of floured seeds of different botanical origin (AHP and AHH) from Modena showed no significant differences in the meal samples (wild type), with irregular platelet forms for the starch-based particles.

FIGURE 76.2

SEM images (x 5000) of flour samples (wild type) of seeds of different botanical origin: (A) AHP, (B) AHH. SEM images of floured seeds of different botanical origin (AHP and AHH) from Modena showed no significant differences in the meal samples (wild type), with irregular platelet forms for the starch-based particles.

TABLE 76.1 Chemical Composition Values of Horse Chestnut Samples of Different Botanical Origins from Modena, and Comparison with Literature Data for Another Species

AHP (Pure;

AHH (Hybrid;

A. indica (Parmar &

White Flowers)

Pink Flowers)

Kaushal, 1982)

Moisture % (fresh seeds)

50.8 ± 0.6

50.1 ± 0.6

50.5

Humidity % (residual)

6.97 ± 0.35

6.59 ± 0.24

Proteins % (d.s.)

2.64 ± 0.42

1.82 ± 0.34

0.77

Lipids % (d.s.)

4.13 ± 0.36

5.10 ± 0.50

Glucids % (d.s.)

15.2 ± 0.66

14.3 ± 0.80

11.0

Ashes % (d.s.)

2.51 ± 0.12

2.19 ± 0.09

3.83

CWS % (d.s.)

53.9 ± 0.79

48.6 ± 0.65

TISS % (d.s.)

2.18 ± 0.10

1.92 ± 0.11

Uncertainties are expressed as standard deviation of five samples (s5). d.s., dry sample.

Uncertainties are expressed as standard deviation of five samples (s5). d.s., dry sample.

sugars) is reported — a result 35% lower than that determined for the AHP and AHH seeds. Also, the protein content reported for A. indica is smaller, at —240% (AHP) and —140% (AHH). On the contrary, the mineral content is higher, the differences being +53% (AHP) and +75% (AHH).

The lipid fraction of AH seeds is 4—5% of the dry mass. Some fatty acids — the most important of which are oleic, linolenic, palmitic, and stearic acids — have been identified by Leung and Foster (1996), and confirmed by us (Baraldi et al., 2007). Surprisingly, we observed that the main components are differently distributed in the two varieties (AHP and AHH): oleic acid prevails in AHH (49.7%, compared to 43.2% in AHP), while linoleic acid strongly prevails in AHP (35.2%, compared to 23.0% in AHH).

The oleic acid content in AH and A. indica seeds oils seems to be very different (Table 76.2), as claimed by Kapoor and colleagues (2009). Unfortunately, no further information on this topic can be obtained from the literature at this time.

TABLE 76.2 Fatty Acid Content of Horse Chestnut Samples of Different Botanical

Origin from Modena, Compared with Literature Data for Anther Species

TABLE 76.2 Fatty Acid Content of Horse Chestnut Samples of Different Botanical

Origin from Modena, Compared with Literature Data for Anther Species

Acid

AHP (Pure,

AHH (Hybrid,

A. indica (Kapoor

White Flowers)

Pink Flowers)

et al., 2009)

Myristic (C14:0)

0.6 ± 0.3

0.6 ± 0.2

Myristoleic (C14:1)

0.2 ± 0.1

0.4 ± 0.1

Pentadecanoic (C15:

0)

0.1 ± 0.1

0.2 ± 0.1

Pentadecenoic (C15:

1)

0.1 ± 0.1

0.1 ± 0.1

Palmitic (C16: 0)

7.1 ± 0.5

6.8 ± 0.6

Palmitoleic (C16: 1)

0.7 ± 0.3

0.9 ± 0.3

Heptadecanoic (C17

: 0)

0.1 ± 0.1

0.4 ± 0.2

Heptadecenoic (C17

: 1)

0.1 ± 0.1

0.3 ± 0.1

Stearic (C18: 0)

0.8 ± 0.2

2.9 ± 0.3

Oleic (C18:1)

43.2 ± 1.1

49.7 ± 1.3

65 o 70

Linoleic (C18:2)

35.2 ± 1.2

23.0 ± 0.8

Linolelaidic (C18:2)

2.2 ± 0.4

2.1 ± 0.2

Linolenic (C18 :3)

5.9 ± 0.5

7.5 ± 0.5

Arachidic (C20: 0)

0.2 ± 0.1

0.5 ± 0.2

Behenic (C22: 0)

0.1 ± 0.1

0.3 ± 0.1

Erucic (C22: 1)

2.9 ± 0.3

4.1 ± 0.2

Uncertainties are expressed as standard deviation of five samples (s5).

Uncertainties are expressed as standard deviation of five samples (s5).

In a recent paper, de Magalhaes and Arruda (2007) provided an interesting overview regarding some analytical procedures focusing on experimental investigation of the metallo-protein content in AH seeds, by applying techniques such as SDS-PAGE, SRXRF, and ETAAS.

A significant contribution to the literature on the chemical composition of AH was made by Kapusta et al. (2007), who traced the flavonoid profile of the seeds and the wastewater obtained as a by-product during industrial processing of AH seeds. It was concluded that flavonoids present in these fractions can be safely used to obtain quercetine and kaempferol glycoside for the cosmetic, nutraceutical, and supplement industries.

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