Gac (Momordica cochinchinensis
Spreng.) seeds contain saponins that are reportedly medicinal. It was hypothesised that the extraction of saponins from powdered Gac seed kernels could be optimised using microwave-assisted extraction (MAE) with ethanol as the extraction solvent. The aim was to determine an appropriate ethanol concentration, ratio of solvent to seed powder and microwave power and time for extraction. Whether or not defatting the Gac seed powder had an impact on the extraction of saponins, was also determined. Methods:
Ethanol concentrations ranged from 60–100% were used to compare total saponins content (TSC) extracted from full-fat and defatted Gac seeds. Ratios of solvent to Gac seeds ranged from 10 to 100 mL g−1
and microwave conditions ranged from 1–4 cycles at power levels ranged from 360–720 W, were examined successively to evaluate their efficiency in extracting saponins from full-fat Gac seeds. Results:
A four-fold higher of TSC was obtained in extracts from full-fat Gac seed powder than from defatted powder (100 vs. 26 mg aescin equivalents (AE) per gram of Gac seeds). The optimal parameters for the extraction of saponins were a ratio of 30 mL of 100% absolute ethanol per g of full-fat Gac seed powder with the microwave set at 360Wfor three irradiation cycles of 10 s power ON and 15 s power OFF per cycle. Conclusions:
Gac seed saponins could be efficiently extracted using MAE. Full-fat powder of the seed kernels is recommended to be used for a better yield of saponins. The optimised MAE conditions are recommended for the extraction of enriched saponins from Gac seeds for potential application in the nutraceutical and pharmaceutical industries.
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