Leading native ingredients producer Australian Native Products has announced plans for future investment in lemon myrtle following the release of a report that identifies the potential of the native plant.
The new report – Discovering Lemon Myrtle – is a review of the scientific research into lemon myrtle’s biological efficacy and reveals a raft of functional properties with the potential to drive a range of new product development opportunities for food and beverage companies globally.
Lemon myrtle leaf is sought after for tea blends for its sweet citrus scent and flavour but as the evidence builds for lemon myrtle’s powerful antibacterial and antioxidant properties, so do the opportunities for the Australian native ingredient.
First commercialised in Australia in 1889,1 lemon myrtle has been used in Indigenous food and medicine for thousands of years. The latest research review, conducted by Advanced Accredited Practising Dietitian Lisa Yates and commissioned by Australian Native Products, found:
- Impressive antioxidant capacity
Lemon myrtle has more than 10 different antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds – more than many other herbal teas.2 In fact, it has similar antioxidant properties to black tea, but without the caffeine.2 Antioxidants help maintain overall health and wellbeing by fighting off free radicals that can damage cells and contribute to aging and chronic disease.
- Metabolic health potential
Lemon myrtle and its active compound citral could help regulate metabolism. A team from Australia’s CSIRO found lemon myrtle extract from dried powdered leaf inhibited three enzymes involved in carbohydrate and fat digestion.3 Australian and Malaysian researchers also found lemon myrtle extract was more effective than other plant-based oil extracts at inhibiting an enzyme called alpha-amylase, essential for digesting carbohydrates and controlling blood glucose levels.4
- Anti-cancer properties
Preliminary research found lemon myrtle leaf extracts had positive results in reducing some cancer cells such as colon, stomach, bladder and liver in test tube studies. The researchers from CSIRO found cancerous cell death increased after the herbal treatment. 5
- Mood-boosting aromatics
Citrus scents like lemon myrtle, common in aromatherapy, may help to improve mood. Preliminary research has found citrus scents can help the mental wellbeing of some people with anxiety and depression.6
- Powerful natural antibacterial properties
Lemon myrtle has powerful natural antibacterial properties when distilled into an essential oil, thanks to its active compound citral. Researchers from the University of NSW demonstrated that lemon myrtle essential oil and its major component citral, possess significant antimicrobial activity against a range of Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria, yeast and mould.7
Australian Native Products, which is the largest commercial grower of lemon myrtle in Australia, will use the report to inform the direction of future research, as part of its partnership with the University of Queensland. The company has committed to invest five per cent of revenue into R&D projects to further the native botanical industry.
ANP founder Gary Mazzorana says the company is excited by the growth of Australia’s native food industry and is keen to look at lemon myrtle’s potential health benefits in food and beverage products, along with improvements to agronomic practices to guarantee quality and quantity of supply.
“This report shows us that there is enormous potential for lemon myrtle to contribute to a product’s health benefits,” said Mr. Mazzorana.
“Australian natives are experiencing a major boom right now – consumers are trying native ingredients at restaurants and are surprised by their magical flavours. More and more, product developers are looking at ways to incorporate Australian native plant flavours into their offerings as a point of difference. It’s vital we invest in further research and establish a body of robust scientific research to take lemon myrtle, and the native ingredient industry as a whole to the next level.”
To find out more, please visit www.australiannativeproducts.com.au.
References are available in the report. Download your copy here.