Research finds healthy use for winemaking waste

Waste from winemaking could be a valuable source of ingredients for nutraceuticals, pharmaceuticals and food colouring, according to new research from chemical engineers at Monash University.

In Australia, around 2 million tonnes of wine grapes are crushed annually, with about 20 per cent by weight remaining as waste, including skins, seeds and stalks after processing. The majority of winemaking waste is currently returned to the land as compost, leaving the potential value of the bioactives it contains unrealised.

“Across the Australian wine industry this means there is a massive volume of waste from which these compounds could be recovered and used” said Assosciate Professor Victoria Haritos. “We see great opportunities and are keen to explore how this waste product can be processed commercially,” she added.

Researchers found that compounds derived from red wine grape varieties have significant levels of bioactive natural compounds called polyphenols and anthocyanins.

“Bioactive polyphenols and anthocyanins could have a number of commercial applications as functional ingredients, in dietary supplements and as natural food colourings” explained PhD student Xueqing (Rachel) Liu.

Diets rich in polyphenols, which are found in a range of fruits, vegetables and cereals, have been associated with protection against developing cancers, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, osteoporosis and neurodegenerative diseases in a number of epidemiological studies.

Anthocyanins, the pigments responsible for the colours red, purple and blue in many fruits and vegetables, have also been associated with antioxidant effects and the prevention of cardiovascular disease, cancer and diabetes among other conditions.

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