The cranberry giant received the patent approval earlier this year, almost six years after the application was submitted by inventor Wassef Nawar.
According to the patent claims, the isolated cranberry seed oil or its compositions can be used as anticancer, hypocholesterolemic, antithrombotic, antioxidizing, antiatherogenic, antiinflammatory, and immunoregulatory agents.
However, in relation to the anti-cancer benefits of the oil, Ocean Spray said this is only currently backed by “preliminary research”, and more studies would be necessary.
Nevertheless, the patent covers the use of the oil in food, beverage, supplement and drug applications designed to “treat or reduce” the occurrence of these conditions.
‘Reducing the occurrence’ of breast cancer
The first patent claim reads: “A method for treating or reducing the occurrence of breast cancer in a subject comprising the step of administering to said subject a therapeutically-effective amount of a foodstuff, dietary supplement or pharmaceutical composition comprising a cranberry seed oil extract substantially free of impurities and enriched for .gamma.-tocotrienol, wherein .gamma.-tocotrienol is present in an amount of about 1505 mg/kg or more.”
Subsequent claims also cover the use of varying levels of tocotrienols and tocopherols, which are forms of vitamin E and powerful antioxidants.
In response to an inquiry from NutraIngredients-USA.com, the company did not specify when or if it will use this patent to develop ingredients for foods and supplements, saying only that “cranberry seed oil is not currently available from Ocean Spray”.
It did say, however, that despite the mention of pharmaceutical applications in the patent, the company “is not in the business of drug development”.
“We are focused on providing healthy foods, beverages and ingredients to support a healthy lifestyle and diet (…) The seed oil is just another example of all the healthy components found in the cranberry fruit.”
As well as tocopherols and tocotrienols, cranberry seed oil contains 20 percent monounsaturated oils and over 60 percent polyunsaturated oils, including alpha linoleic acid (omega 3).
“Cranberry seed oil is a healthy ingredient that can be evaluated and researched further for health benefits. This is just initial exploratory research to review the possible health benefits of the ingredient,” the firm told NutraIngredients-USA.com
According to the patent, the seed oil could be used in different oils or oil-based foods, such as margarine, mayonnaise, or peanut butter. In addition, grain flour fortified with the compounds may be used in baked goods, cereals, pastas and soups. The oil or its components can also be emulsified and used in a variety of water-based products, such as juice drinks, sports drinks, and drink mixes.
The oil would be isolated from cranberry seeds using “any suitable method”, including solvent extraction methods or non-solvent methods such as cold-pressing.
Click here to access the patent, Cranberry seed oil extract and compositions containing components thereof, issued on April 14 2009.