One man's trash is another man's treasure, the old adage goes.
By soaking muscadine grape seeds and skins in a solution of enzymes, University of Florida researchers found they could increase the antioxidants extracted from the grape waste products.
After pressing grapes to make wine, producers typically send the grape seeds and skins to landfills or compost them, according to a news release.
Scientists found that by using the enzymes cellulase, pectinase and glucosidase, they could increase the antioxidant activity in the grape byproducts.
The end-products could then be used as food additives or nutritional supplements.
The enzymes break down the cell walls within grape seeds and skins so phenolics are more readily available for extraction.
Phenolics, sometimes called phenols, are a large group of naturally occurring plant-based compounds, many of which have health benefits.
The downside was the enzymes actually decreased the phenolics in the discarded material. On the other hand, enzyme hydrolysis—a form of digestion—can release more antioxidants.
"You got less phenolics, but you improve their antioxidant activity, Maurice Marshall, a food science and human nutrition professor and study co-author, said in the news release.