Health benefits of semi-dried persimmons proved(美容・健康効果実証 あんぽ柿極上成分)

Fukushima University research fellow Hitomi Shikano, left, and Junichi Suda of the JA Fukushima Mirai agricultural cooperative show a persimmon.(あんぽ柿に含まれている成分の可視化に成功した鹿野氏(左)と須田部長)

 Ampogaki half-dried persimmons, a specialty of northern Fukushima Prefecture, contain about three times more vitamin A1 than fresh ones, a Fukushima University research fellow has found using a cutting-edge analysis device.
 Findings by Hitomi Shikano, 31, provide scientific evidence for the fruit's beauty and health benefits that producers have promoted so far based only on tradition and their own experience. She has also found that ampogaki contain a wealth of vitamin B6, which is said to be effective in preventing hangovers.
"We will also be analyzing other local specialties to uplift Fukushima Prefecture," the researcher said.
 The JA Fukushima Mirai agricultural cooperative, which conducted the research with Shikano, hopes that the findings will help attract new consumers for ampogaki, thus expanding sales channels and reviving their consumption, which suffered a setback following the accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant triggered by the March 2011 earthquake.


 Shikano has been conducting her research under Prof. Shu Taira of the university's Faculty of Food and Agricultural Sciences. Using a device that can visualize in different colors the amount of certain components contained in a given item, she examined cross-sections of ampogaki and fresh persimmons provided by farmers in Date, in the northern part of the prefecture.
 The analysis showed that ampogaki contain vitamin A1 -- which is said to have anti-wrinkle effects -- at a level 3.4 times higher than in fresh persimmon. Most of this nutrient is contained in the outer part of the fruit. Vitamin B6 in ampogaki is 2.3 times higher, while vitamin B1, which is said to be effective in preventing beriberi, is 2.5 times higher. These two kinds of nutrients are contained in an area near the seeds of the fruit.


 In fresh persimmon, vitamin A1 can be found only in the skin, which is usually peeled off and discarded in processing. According to Taira, it was known that ampogaki contained vitamin A1, but it was unclear until now how much or in which part of the fruit the nutrient is found.
 It is believed that ampogaki contain more vitamin A1 than fresh persimmon because of the beta-carotene conversion while being dried and exposed to sunlight.


 Persistent harmful rumors have damaged the prefecture's agricultural prospects, with shipments of ampogaki still hovering at about 70% of the level before the nuclear accident, but these findings may help reverse that.
 "[Shikano's findings] have added new value to ampogaki," said Junichi Suda, planning division chief at JA Fukushima Mirai. "We'll think of new ways to promote ampogaki, such as [making a tagline saying] 'Ampogaki for beauty.'"
 A paper by Shikano and fellow researchers will be featured in the August issue of Journal of Oleo Science, an English-language journal published by the Japan Oil Chemists' Society.

( Translated by The Japan News )


 【 2020年6月16日付・福島民友新聞掲載 】