Extraction of Flavonoids from Bitter Melon


Bitter melon, Momordica charantia L, is a popular traditional medicinal fruit in tropical and subtropical countries. It has been linked with therapeutic effects, some of which are likely due to its flavonoids. To determine its total flavonoid content (TFC) and to prepare extracts for use as nutritional supplements or ingredients for nutraceutical functional foods, various solvents have been used, including water, which is the preferred solvent because it is inexpensive, safe and environmentally friendly. The study aimed to extract bitter melon, using five solvents (ethanol, methanol, n-butanol, acetone and water) before and after the optimal conditions for water were determined in terms of extraction temperature, time, ratio of water to bitter melon (mL/g) and number of times the same material was extracted. The TFC of six varieties of bitter melon was also determined. Acetone was the best of the five solvents for extracting flavonoids from the Moonlight variety (23.2 mg Rutin Equivalents (RE)/g). Even after increasing the extraction by 88% (1.24 vs 0.66 mg RE/g) using optimised conditions for the aqueous extraction (two extractions at 40 for 15 min at a ratio of 100:1 mL/g of bitter melon powder), the flavonoids extracted from the Moonlight variety using water was very little (5.4%) compared to acetone. Furthermore, using acetone, it was shown that the Moonlight variety (23.2 mg RE/g) bought at a local market had higher levels of flavonoids than the greenhouse-grown Jade (15.3 mg RE/g), Niddhi (16.9 mg RE/g), Indra (15.0 mg RE/ g), Hanuman (3.9 mg RE/g) and White (6.9 mg RE/g) varieties. Therefore, acetone was the best solvent for extracting flavonoids from bitter melon and the aqueous extraction could only be improved to extract 5.4% of the flavonoids extracted with acetone from the Moonlight variety, which had the highest TFC of the six varieties of bitter melon.

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Tan, S. , Parks, S. , Stathopoulos, C. and Roach, P. (2014) Extraction of Flavonoids from Bitter Melon. Food and Nutrition Sciences, 5, 458-465. doi: 10.4236/fns.2014.55054.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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