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Wild apricot (Prunus armeniaca) kernel oil: A strategic alternative to value added fatty acids,

Apricot (Prunus armeniaca) is cultivated at higher altitudes
(1000-2700 m) and is indigenous to China and Japan,
but also found in Turkey, southern Europe, South Africa
and Australia [1]. Its pits yields 27% kernels [2] and are
normally considered as waste by farmers, but these seed
kernels are a rich source of oil with great medicinal value
due to presence of different saturated and unsaturated
fatty acids. The major fatty acids found in apricot kernel
oil are oleic (C18:1) (70.83%), linoleic (C18:2) (21.96%),
palmitic (C16:0) (4.92%) and stearic acid (C18:0) (1.21%)
[3]. The presence of these fatty acids in oil play a vital
role to provide stiffness and integrity to cell, signicant use
in medicine to prevent from strokes, high blood pressure
and immune system disorders including acquired immune
deciency syndrome, multiple sclerosis, lupus and cancer.
Apricot kernel oil fatty acid composition is similar to
almond oil containing oleic, linoleic and α-linolenic acid
[4], olive oil containing palmitic, palmitoleic, stearic, oleic
and linoleic acid [5] and walnut oil fatty acids [6]. All
these oils are widely used in the cosmetic industry, due to
their capability to combat free radicals, released as result
of normal metabolic processes. The free radicals oxidise
nucleic acids, protein, lipids or deoxyribonucleic acid and
can initiate degenerative diseases like cancer, cardiovascular
problems and atherosclerosis [7]. In cosmetics, the fatty
acids are used as moisturizer, emollient and emulsier in
making creams and other products due to their excellent
absorbance through skin.
Like almond, olive, walnut and other similar rich oils, no
one has reported the use of wild apricot kernel oil for
the aforesaid properties irrespective of similar fatty acid
composition and good antioxidant capacity. The present
objective of our study is to examine the physical and
chemical properties of apricot kernel oil from the wild
variety grown unconditionally in western Himalayas of
India, with antioxidant and antimicrobial activity.
Materials and methods
Extraction of oil
Prunus armeniaca seeds were collected from Pithoragarh,
Uttarakhand, India, during the crop ripening season and kept
International Journal of
Essential Oil Therapeutics
Wild apricot (Prunus armeniaca) kernel oil: A strategic
alternative to value added fatty acids
R. Singh a*, S. Gupta a, D. D. Jo sh i b, N. Nainwal c
a Amity Institute of Microbial Biotechnology, Amity University, Sector 125, Noida, UP, India
b Amity Phytomedicines Department, Amity University, Sector 125, Noida, UP, India
c Amity Institute of Horticulture Studies and Research, Amity University, Sector 125, Noida, UP, India
The biological benets of oils can be linked with the fatty acid composition and antioxidant activity of
the oil. In the present study the fatty acid prole of wild apricot kernel oil was analysed by GC and
fourteen major components were characterised. The composition was dominated by the presence of both
saturated and unsaturated fatty acids: myristic acid 25.63%, oleic acid 24.75%, linolenic acid 16.41%, stearic
acid 12.91% and linoleic acid 9.50%. The antioxidant property of oil was also determined by total phenolic
content (2.2 mg/ml) and reducing power (0.9 mg/ml). It also exhibited potential antimicrobial activity
against common pathogenic bacterial strains: Streptococcus pyogenes (ATCC 19615), Serratia marcescens
(ATCC 8100), Salmonella typhimurium (ATCC 14028), Staphylococcus aureus (ATCC 25923) and E. coli
(ATCC 11103).
Key words: antimicrobial activity, antioxidant activity, fatty acid composition, myristic acid, oleic acid, wild
apricot kernel oil
* Corresponding author.
E-mail address:
© Essential Oil Resource Consultants. All rights reserved.
International Journal of Essential Oil Therapeutics (2010) 4,
at -20˚C until analysis. Oil was extracted with n-hexane in
a soxhlet extractor, at 70˚C for 5h. The n-hexane fraction
was distilled-out at 70˚C. The temperature was raised to
80˚C for 1 h, just after the distillation stopped, to remove
the traces of n-hexane.
Analysis of physical and chemical characteristics
Determination of saponication, acid and iodine value:
Refractometer was used for the evaluation of
refractive index.
Titration method was used to determine the
saponication value in which sample was added to 0.5
M ethanolic potassium hydroxide solution and boiled
under reux on water bath for 30 min. The solution
was titrated with 0.5 M HCl using phenolphthalein as
indicator [6].
Acid value was also determined with the help of
titration method. A particular amount of sample
was mixed with solution of ethanol (95%) and ether,
already neutralized by 0.1 M potassium hydroxide
solution using phenolphthalein solution. The whole
mixture was titrated against 0.1 M potassium
hydroxide solution using phenolphthalein as indicator
until the solution became faintly pink, after shaking for
30 seconds [6].
Wijs (iodine monochloride) method was used to
determine the iodine value of sample. In this, sample
was dissolved in carbon tetrachloride followed with
iodine monochloride. The solution was kept in the
dark for 30 min, and then titrated against 0.1 M sodium
thiosulphate, using starch solution as indicator [6].
GC analysis
Qualitative and quantitative data of fatty acids were
determined by using GC-FID (Clarus 500, a PE Auto-
System, GC with inbuilt Auto-Sampler, connected with a
ame ionization detector). 0.1 g of sample was saponied
using 2N KOH in methanol and kept in a water bath at
50˚C for 10 min. The solution was cooled for 10 min and
esteried to fatty acid methyl esters (FAMEs) with 1 ml of
5% HCl in methanol. It was further kept at 70˚C for 10 min
and again cooled for 10 min. Two ml of petroleum ether
was mixed vigorously and the clear layer was injected
into the GC with (70% cyanopropyl polysil phenylene
siloxane) fused silica capillary column PBX 70, 50 m x
00.25 mm x 0.15 µm lm thickness. Oven temperature
was programmed from 50 to 220ºC at 4˚C min-1 and
held for 34 min. Helium was used as the carrier gas at a
constant ow of 1.0 ml/min. The injector was programmed
at 230˚C and 1 µl was injected (split ratio of 1:50). The
sample was run for 45 min. The FID detector was set at
240˚C. The fatty acids were identied and quantied by
comparing their relative retention times with reference
standards (FAME standard) [6].
Antioxidant activity of oil
Quantication of total phenols
The Folin Ciocalteau method was used to estimate the
amount of total phenolic compounds in the oil. Aliquots
of the sample were diluted ten times and 0.5 ml of the
diluted sample was taken following with 2.5 ml of 0.2N
Folin-Ciocalteu reagent and 2.0 ml of 7.5% sodium
carbonate. Absorbance was measured, after 2 h of
incubation at room temperature in the dark at 760 nm
using a spectrophotometer (Shimadzu, S-1700). Results
were expressed as gallic acid equivalents [8].
Reducing power determination
Ten times diluted sample (2.5 ml) was taken and mixed
with 2.5 ml of 0.2 M phosphate buffer (pH 6.6) and 2.5
ml of 1% potassium ferricyanide. The mixture was then
incubated at 50˚C for 20 min. To this solution, 2.5 ml of
1% trichloroacetic acid was added to stop the reaction,
which was then centrifuged at 3000 rpm for 10 min. The
upper layer of solution was mixed with distilled water (2.5
ml) and FeCl3 (0.5 ml of 0.1%) and the absorbance was
measured at 700 nm. Vitamin C was used as the positive
control [8].
Antimicrobial activity
Antimicrobial tests were carried out against Gram-
positive bacteria; Bacillus cereus (ATCC 14579), Bacillus
subtilis (MTCC 6051), Bacillus licheniformis (ATCC 14580),
Staphylococcus aureus (ATCC 25923), Streptococcus pyogenes
(ATCC 19615) and Gram-negative bacteria; Pseudomonas
aeruginosa (ATCC 14207), Escherichia coli (ATCC 11103),
Klebsiella pneumoniae (ATCC 13883), Serratia marcescens
(ATCC 8100) Salmonella typhimurium (ATCC 14028)
and Proteus hauseri (ATCC 13315). Sterile discs of 5 mm
diameter were placed on the agar plates and samples at
different concentrations were loaded on the discs. The
plates were then incubated at 37˚C for 24 h.
Results and discussion
Recovery of oil
About 45% pale yellow oil was obtained. Gandhi et al. [9]
and Sharma et al. [10] reported the recovery of oil at 47%
and 45-50%, respectively.
Physical and chemical properties
Refractive index, saponication, iodine and acid values are
represented in Table 1.
Table 1. Physical and chemical characteristics of
wild apricot oil.
saponication value 123.4
refractive index 1.468
iodine value 96.39
acid value 38.6
Table 2 presents the fatty acid composition of the oil as
analysed by GC-FID (Figure 1).
The wild apricot oil has high saponication value of 123.4,
iodine value of 96.39 and acid value of 38.6 with 1.468
refractive index. High saponication and iodine values
indicate the presence of a large number of fatty acids and
hence have great commercial importance.
Ullah et al. [11] showed an iodine value of 103 (g of I/100g
of oil), saponication values of 185 (mg of KOH/g of oil)
and the acid value was 1.7. The same fourteen different
fatty acids were identied, mainly myristic acid (25.63%),
oleic acid 24.75%, stearic acid 12.91%, linolenic acid 16.41%
and linoleic acid 9.50% and archidic, archidnoic, behenic
and erucic acid are in traces (less than 1%).
International Journal of Essential Oil Therapeutics (2010) 4,
All these fatty acids are considered as healthier source
of fat in a diet which increases the immunity and they are
also known by their use in cosmetic and pharma industries.
Myristic acid is an important saturated fatty acid as the
body uses it to stabilize many different proteins, including
proteins used in the immune system; oleic acid is able to
enhance the insulin in INS-1 and can also be used for the
preservation of confectionary items [12]. Stearic acid is
widely used in cosmetic formulations in antiperspirants,
emollient creams and lotions, shampoos and shaving
creams [13]. Linolenic and linoleic acid are essential fatty
acids required in normal human growth, development
and other biological process. Archidic acid and archidnoic
acid also act as body builders; behenic acid is often used
inhair conditioners and moisturizers for their smoothing
properties whilst erucic acid has high tolerance to
temperature, making it suitable for transmission oil. The
fatty acid composition of apricot kernel oil is comparable
with other oils viz. walnut oil, which contains palmitic,
oleic, linoleic and myristic acid ranges from 5.61 % to 5.82
%, 22.63 to 27.27%, 49.93 to 54.41% and less than 0.1%,
respectively [14]. Almond oil major fatty acids are oleic 59-
78% and linoleic 19-30%, with small amounts of palmitic,
stearic, palmitoelic and linolenic acids [15].
The presence of a high amount of myristic acid in wild
apricot kernel oil differentiates it from all other major
oils and acts as uncommon factor, used as avouring agent
[16] and safe cosmetic ingredient in the form of salt and
Table 1. GC analysis of fatty acid composition.
components time(min) area (uV sec) area (1%)
myristic acid 8.97 1055603 25.63
palmitic acid 15.17 41757 1.01
stearic acid 17.89 531689 12.91
oleic acid 18.50 1019513 24.75
linoleic acid 19.72 391405 9.50
archidic acid 21.82 5555 0.13
linolenic acid 22.05 675837 16.41
cis-11,14-eicosatrie 23.72 262212 6.37
behenic acid 25.25 7169 0.17
erucic acid 26.59 7564 0.18
archidnoic acid 26.70 13756 0.33
tricosenoic acid 27.55 6664 0.16
eicosa-pentaenoic acid 28.74 12329 0.30
docosa-hexaenoic acid 30.02 5700 0.14
Figure 1. GC-FID of wild apricot kernel oil.
International Journal of Essential Oil Therapeutics (2010) 4,
ester [17]. It also increases dense lipoprotein secretion by
inhibiting ApoB degradation and triglyceride recruitment
[18]. Apart from other fatty acids myristic acid being
a major component with all cosmetic and medicinal
properties, Wild apricot could be a valuable in these
Antioxidant activity
The total phenolic component of the oil is 2.2 mg/ml, as
determined by the Folin Ciocalteu method and reported
as gallic acid equivalents. Its high phenolic concentration
(648 µg/ml) is shared with that of olive oil [19]. The
reducing power of the oil also increased with increasing
concentration; exhibiting good reducing power of 0.9 mg/
ml that was comparable with vitamin C (Figure 2). Both
act as good antioxidant compounds to reduce the risk
of cancer and cardiovascular disease. Gandhi et al. [9]
reported the comparison of digestibility of apricot oil with
ground nut oil.
Antimicrobial activity
Wild apricot kernel oil at different concentrations
demonstrated antimicrobial activity against E. coli, Serratia
marcescens, Staphylococcus aureus, Salmonella typhymurium
and Streptococcus pyogenes as shown by their zone of
inhibition and minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC)
(Table 3). The oil showed no inhibition against Bacillus
species, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Klebsiella pneumoniae and
Proteus hauseri. The highest antimicrobial activity of the oil
was found against Salmonella typhymurium a with minimum
inhibitory concentration of 0.150 mg/ml and zones of
growth inhibition of 18, 16, 14, 12 and 10 mm were found
Figure 2. Reducing power of wild apricot kernel oil () using vitamin C () as positive control.
Table 3. Antimicrobial activity of wild apricot kernal oil.
microorganism MIC zone of growth inhibition
*0.45 *0.30 *0.22 *0.18 *0.15
Staphylococcus aureus 0.179 12mm 10mm 8mm 7mm 6mm
Streptococcus pyogenes 0.179 12mm 10mm 8mm 6mm _
Bacillus cereus ______
Bacillus licheniformis ______
Bacillus subtilis ______
Escherichia coli 0.179 12mm 10mm 8mm 6mm _
Klebsiella pneumoniae ______
Serratia marcescens 0.179 10mm 9mm 8mm 6mm
Salmonella typhymurium 0.150 18mm 16mm 14mm 12mm 10mm
Pseudomonas aeruginosa ______
Proteus hauseri ______
*wild apricot kernel oil concentration mg/ml
International Journal of Essential Oil Therapeutics (2010) 4,
at oil concentrations of 0.45, 0.30, 0.22, 0.18 and 0.152 mg/
ml, respectively, as shown in Figure 3. Activity of oil against
S. aureus and E. coli (0.312 mg/ml MIC) is also reported by
Yigit et al. [1]. The oil showed no antimicrobial activity alone
(without dilution); this may be due to unavailability of oil
for microbial attack. The dispersion of oil (hydrocarbons)
in a water emulsion increases the surface area of oil,
making it more available for microbial interaction [20].
Figure 3. Antimicrobial activity of wild apricot
kernel oil against Salmonella typhymurium.
Disc a – Oil concentration 9.16 mg/ml (without dilution)
Disc b – Oil concentration 0.45 mg/ml
Disc c – Oil concentration 0.30 mg/ml
Disc d – Oil concentration 0.22 mg/ml
Disc e – Oil concentration 0.18 mg/ml
Disc f – Oil concentration 0.15 mg/ml
The high availability of wild apricot kernel containing
crucial fatty acids and antioxidants compounds, supported
by favorable climatic conditions of the Himalayan region,
can make it a viable substitute of all available expensive
oils in the market, viz. almond, walnut and olive having
similar physical and chemical compositions. All the results
and observations conclude that wild apricot kernel oil is
benecial as a health supplement, in the cosmetic industry
and in medicine.
We wish to acknowledge Arbro Pharmaceuticals Ltd.,
New Delhi for their support in the GC analysis of sample.
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International Journal of Essential Oil Therapeutics (2010) 4,
... Wild apricot oil kernel contains both saturated and unsaturated fatty acids. Wild apricot kernel oil is also reported to have antimicrobial activity against some of the pathogenic bacteria likeSalmonella typhimurium, Serratia marcescens, Staphylococcus aureus, E. coli and Streptococcus pyogenes [74] . ...
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The aim of the study was to investigate the antibacterial activity of refined Sunflower oil, Tween 20 (polyoxyethylene (20) sorbitan monolaurate), water microemulsion system. Pseudo-ternary phase diagram was constructed to obtain the concentration range of oil, surfactant and water. Three microemulsion formulations were prepared, of which oil, tween 20 and water were made to 100 %. Conductivity and pH were used to characterize microemulsion. The concentration of refined sunflower oil varied from 5% to 15 %, the surfactant concentration varied from 10 % to 30 % and water concentration varied from 55 % to 85 %. When water concentration increases, conductivity of the microemulsion system increases upto 50 % of water concentration and after that become stable. When oil and surfactant concentration was increased, pH of the microemulsion system decreases. Kinetic studies showed inhibition of bacterial growth in all formulated microemulsions. Bacterial growth was enhanced in the case of oil and surfactant alone.
Oleic acid (C 18:1) has been found to be fungistatic against a wide spectrum of saprophytic moulds and yeasts. The fatty acid causes a delay of 6-8 h in the germination of fungal spores and is very effective at a low concentration of 0.7% (v/v). The application of this property of oleic acid finds great use in preserving foodstuffs including bakery products like cakes and pastries with sweet soft cream as a topping which are prone to quick spoilage under conditions of non-refrigeration.
The present study has been undertaken to assess the levels of some free radical scavenging and antioxidant systems of plasma in patients reperfused after myocardial infarction. The study included 30 patients and a control group consisting of 40 age- and sex-matched healthy persons. The findings show a significant decrease in the activity of free radical scavenging enzyme, superoxide dismutase (54%) and levels of ascorbic acid (63%) and total thiols (42%), with significant increase in the levels of malondialdehyde (285%), a marker of oxidative stress, in the patients reperfused after myocardial infarction compared to controls. The findings show that reperfusion of the infarcted myocardium results in a burst of oxygen consumption with enhanced generation of free radicals and free radical-mediated damage. At the same time, there is decrease in the levels both of enzymatic free radical scavenger and antioxidants.
Wild apricot seeds collected from 167 selected trees were evaluated and considerable genetic variation for oil content, stone and kernel characters were recorded. Oil content ranged from 50.05 - 57.97%, while range of stone length, breadth and thickness was from 14.64 - 26.48, 12.26 - 21.49 and 8.63 - 14.65 mm, respectively. Stone and kernel weight varied between 66.60 - 295.10 and 18.20 - 68.18 g. Kernel size (length, breadth and thickness) and weight are most desirable characters which affect oil percentage. On the basis of the correlation studies, it was found that kernel thickness (0.292) and kernel weight (0.236) was positively and highly significantly correlated with the oil content along with the stone thickness (0.211). However, kernel weight has positive and highly significant correlation with all the stone and kernel characters.
Oil content and fatty acid composition were determined in developing almond kernels (Prunus amygdalus) at 3-week intervals, from March to September. Three marked stages with different rates of oil accumulation were observed. The major part of oil was stored in a 5-7-week period, approximately 2 months before harvest. Significant variations of fatty acid composition were detected in the three stages cited. High percentages of palmitic, linoleic, and linolenic acids were present at initial stages, followed by a diminution of these acids and a continuous increase of oleic acid.