Pomegranate peel left over from production of the juice renowned for its potential health benefits can make a nutritious feed supplement for cattle, researchers in Israel report. The peel packs some of the weight-boosting and health-enhancing effects of antibiotics and hormones without the detrimental effects, and researchers say it may yield meat with higher levels of beneficial antioxidants.
In the new study, Ariel Shabtay and colleagues note that consumption of pomegranate products is increasing amid reports that the fruit may help fight cancer, infections, and other diseases in humans due to its high levels of antioxidants.
Recent studies also have shown that boosting antioxidant levels in the diet of cattle may help improve their health. Those findings seemed to make pomegranate peel, a waste product of the pomegranate industry with higher antioxidant levels than the juice itself, an attractive candidate as a nutritional supplement for cattle feed.
To find out, the scientists fed calves either normal cattle feed or feed supplemented with pomegranate peels. After eight weeks, the calves supplemented with pomegranate had higher blood levels of alpha-tocopherol, a form of vitamin E that may help retain nutrients and extend the shelf life of meat by preventing spoilage. The pomegranate-fed animals gained more weight than the animals on standard feed.
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