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Nutritional and Toxicological Evaluation of Grewia asiatica (Phalsa) Powder Used as a Summer Drink.


Summary: Grewia asiatica (Phalsa) is indigenous to Pakistan and is most commonly used in summer season, but it could not be kept for long. For this reason dried phalsa powder was prepared and its nutritional value was investigated to assess the numerous potential of this plant fruit.

The results exhibited that the dried powder contains nutritional value (carbohydrates, protein, fat, fiber, minerals and energy) four times as compared to phalsa fruit. For acute oral toxicity test, the dried phalsa powder was tested on healthy laboratory animals in a dose of 0.45g/kg body weight and 0.90g/kg body weight and compared with the standard marketed product Tang (orange) in recommended dose. The test drink passed acute oral toxicity test showing no sign of toxicity within 72 hours claimed period. The gross behavioral observation of animals showed that the drink is energizing and CNS stimulant and no mortality was recorded during experimental period. Autopsy findings showed no gross changes. All vital organs i.e. heart, liver, spleen, lungs and kidneys were found normal as a result of which it can be concluded that during processing of fresh fruit in dried powder and addition of preservatives no hazardous material like toxins were produced. So it can be used safely.


Nutrients are vital to prevent, treat, and cure disease and to run the life healthy and smoothly. Nutrients are required in order to build and repair cells and body tissues, maintain the organs and bones in best working condition and to provide energy as fuel and warmth. Herbs can be a good source of many valuable nutrients like carbohydrates, fats and oils, minerals, vitamins, and water.

Grewia asiatica (Phalsa) belonging to family Tiliaceae is a summer bonanza and is purely Asian fruit commonly found in Pakistan, India and Southeast Asia [1, 2]. G. asiatica fruit used in various forms like eaten fresh as dessert or made into syrup and pickles. It is a rich source of vitamin A, B and C, phosphorus, potassium, iron, sodium, calcium, protein and carbohydrates [3]. According to scientific investigations, phalsa fruit possesses a number of medicinal properties i.e. treatment of respiratory and cardiac problems, blood disorders, inflammation, fever, rheumatism, pustules and eruptions, nausea, vomiting, morning sickness and motion sickness etc. [4- 7].

Some other seasonal summer drinks prepared from fresh fruits like tamarind and prunes are also available but nothing can beat phalsa syrup for its cool and refreshing qualities. Many people are unaware to this wonderful fruit because its transportation is difficult for long distances and fruit could not be kept for a long time either has to be consumed fresh or preserved as syrup. The juice ferments so readily that a preservative must be added to it [5]. For this reason, dried phalsa powder was prepared to enhance the shelf life and to promote easy, safe and instant use of this fruit. Although a lot of work on its pharmacology is reported, but no scientific work is conducted on its nutritional value assessment. Therefore the aim of this study was to work on its nutritional value in powdered form along with its oral toxicity as well.

Result and Discussion

The chemical nutrients are necessary for human health. Instead of many nutrients that are made by human body itself the human body must relay on other sources to get other nutrients that are known as essential nutrients. It is well reported that plants are good source of nutrients like mineral and vitamins [8]. As G. asiatica indigenous to Pakistan and available for very short period in summer season possesses vast pharmacological activities. For this instance dried phalsa powder was assessed for its nutritional value according to standard methods in comparison with market available drink (orange tang) and it was found that dried powder contains nutritional value four times as compared to fresh phalsa fruit and the standard drink (Table-1).

Carbohydrates were found up to 89.05g in phalsa drink, while in standard drink it was only 23.5g and in phalsa fruit it was 21.1g per 100g. Proteins were found to be 2.46g in phalsa drink, 1.57g in phalsa fruit and not detected in standard drink. It is reported that carbohydrates and proteins are genuine source of nourishment for our body [8]. Fat was found to be 1.55g in phalsa drink, less than 0.1g in phalsa fruit and not found in standard drink. It is reported that 1 to 2% calorie of energy from diet as fat be sufficient to human body because excess fat consumption can leads to Cardiac problems [9]. Fiber was present in a high quantity in phalsa fruit i.e. 5.53g as compared to phalsa drink which was 3.39g and only 0.1g in standard drink. It is also reported that the fibers possesses health-promoting properties like lowering the serum cholesterol, reduces the risk of coronary heart disease, hypertension, constipation, diabetes, colon, breast cancer and detoxification of poisonous metals [10- 13].

As far as the mineral content was concerned, it was found to be 3.05g in phalsa drink, and only 0.04g and 0.55g in standard drink and phalsa fruit respectively. The total calories were present in a quantity of 90.5 Kcal in phalsa fruit, 97 Kcal in standard drink and up to four times i.e. 391 Kcal in our sample i.e. phalsa drink. A similar nutritive analysis was carried out on tamarind processed product and the total calories were 115 Kcal [14]. Some studies were carried out on prunes drink but it was found toxic to some extent at higher doses [15].

The phalsa drink was also tested for acute oral toxicity test on healthy adult laboratory animals (albino rats weighing between 160 to 210g). During the toxicity studies the animals were observed for 72 hours after oral feeding of phalsa drink in single and double doses as compared to the standard drink (Tang orange) and control group (distilled water). All animals were found active, healthy and alert immediately after receiving the phalsa drink and standard drink and showed no sign of toxicity within 72 hours of observation period (Table-2). However the animals receiving double dose of phalsa drink became hyper-active, energetic and over smart. They were actively moving, climbing, jumping over the cage cover and swinging with strong grip, a sign of CNS stimulant activity which lasted for a period of 1- 2 hours. While phalsa drink and standard drink in same dose showed same signs and symptoms for a short period of time i.e. 15-30 minutes only (Table- 3).

There was no major change in the behavior of animals of all the four groups. No mortality was observed during and after the experiment. Autopsy findings showed no gross changes. All vital organs i.e. heart, liver, spleen, lungs and kidneys were found normal as a result of which it can be concluded that during processing of fresh fruit in dried powder and addition of preservatives no hazardous material like toxins were produced.

Therefore, phalsa powder drink can be used freely and safely to restore energy without any hazardous effect and can be compared to any marketed product as a summer bonanza for refreshment after exhaustion in a tardy and warm day.



Table Sugar (Madina Sugar Mills (PVT) Limited, Pakistan), Sodium Chloride (Riedel-de Haen Chemicals, Germany), CMC (Sigma Chemicals, US), CuSO 4 (Allied Signals Chemicals, Europe), K 2 SO 4 (Riedel-de Haen Chemicals, Germany), H 2 SO 4 (Merck Private Ltd. Germany), NaOH (Merck Private Ltd. Germany), Pet-Ether (M-Tedia Chemicals, US), Diethyl Ether (M-Tedia Chemicals US).


Dryer (Memmert Model UL-80, Schutzart DIN-40050-IP20, 854 Schwabach, Germany), Grinder (Pin Type, Shundong Jimo Agricultural Machinery Works, Model No. FFC-15, The Peoples Republic of China), Fluidized Bed Dryer (Model No GLSC-FBD-03-050, Equipment Pakistan Technology International, Faisalabad, Pakistan), Ribbon Type Blender (Model No. 50, Al-wajid Enterprises, Karachi, Pakistan), Soxhelet (Model No. SE-1/02, PCSIR Labs Complex Pakistan), Oven (Model No. 101-1, PCSIR Labs Complex Pakistan).

Preparation of sample

G. asiatica fruit was purchased from local market and identified by botanist Nida Saleem, Dept. of Food Technology, PCSIR Labs Complex Karachi, Pakistan. 100 kg material after removing from their stems is washed with water in automatic fruit washing machine, where dust and adhered material were removed. The washed phalsa fruit were fed into a pulped refiner, where pulp and seeds were separated, 80 kg de-seeded pulp with 81% water content were transferred in to a mixing tank where 150g of food grade red and purple color in the ratio (1:2) and 160g of preservative (Sodium Benzoate) were added and mixed thoroughly for 10 -15 minutes. The pulp form mixing tank were spread on a fine cloth which is already kept on perforated stainless steel trays and the trays are them placed in a force circulatory hot air cabinet dryer where it was dried at 55-60 o C for 24-26 hrs. Thick solid cake of phalsa fruit were removed from fine cloth, broken into pieces and kept in cabinet dryer for 2-3 hrs for optimum removal of water content.

At this stage 15- 16 kg dried solid cake was grinded in a grinder to obtain 100-120 mesh size powder, this powder was further dried in a Fluidized Bed Dryer at 50 o C for 30 minutes where 4-5 % moisture contents was removed. Total 15 kg of dry powder was obtained from 100 kg of phalsa fruits. The dried powder was mixed with 10.005kg of sugar 0.544 kg of salt (Sodium chloride) and 300g of CMC (Carboxy Methyl Cellulose) in a Ribbon Type Blender mixer where all ingredients were thoroughly mixed. The formulated phalsa powder was passed into fine grinder for further grinding up to 220-250 mesh size. The finished phalsa powder was packed in a 30g of food grade cache packing, which is sufficient for 120 ml of phalsa drink.

Animal Selection

Wistar strain rats (160-210g) of either sex were selected for these two studies. The animals were reared at animal house of PCSIR Labs Complex Karachi, and housed separately under strict observation for 3 weeks with free access to food and water. Any animal showing any sign of illness was rejected. Food was withdrawn 12hr before the experiment. The experimental protocol was approved by Ethical Committee PCSIR.

Nutritional Value Assessment


The fruit sample was first deproteinized and clarified in order to obtain clear test solution. The clarified sample was then preceded according to the standard method of analysis. The method used was consistent in both standardization and determination [16].

Mineral Content

Accurately weighed 3-5g of fruit sample was taken in a pre-dried and weighed crucible. The sample was charred over a high Bunsen flame until whole sample turned in black with no fume ignition and then it was ashed at 500-550@C until a grey ash was formed. After 5-6 hours, the sample was removed and allowed to cool in desiccators. Ashed for further few minutes and reweighed after cooling. Mineral content was determined by adapting the standard method [16, 17].


Protein was determined by adapting the standard method. 0.7-2.0g fruit sample was digested with 0.5g of CuSO 4 and K 2 SO 4 respectively, with the addition of 25ml of H 2 SO 4 . The digestion flask was heated gently until the frothing ceased and briskly boiled cleared solution was obtained. After cooling, 200ml of H 2 O and NaOH were added. Immediately the flask was connected to a distilling bulb on a condenser, with a tip of condenser immersed in acidic solution and 5-7 drops indicator in a receiver. To mix the contents thoroughly, the flask was rotated and then heated until NH 3 had been distilled ( greater than 150ml distillate). The receiver was then removed, washed up of the condenser, and the titrated excess standard acid is distillate with the standard NaOH solution was corrected for blank determination on reagents [16].


0.5g of fruit sample was weighed directly on a filter extraction thimble, and the end of thimble was plugged with fat-free cotton wool, then it was placed in a central siphon portion of a soxhelet. 40ml of pet- ether and diethyl-ether were taken in a flask and connected to soxhelet siphon and condenser, refluxed for 5hours and distilled of mixed ether and the flask was placed in an oven for distillation at 100-105@C. The flask was then cooled and weighed after 3hours of drying period. Fat was calculated from the weight of material in a receiver flask [18].


225ml of ethanol (90%) was added to digested test portion of fruit sample at 60-65@C. After removal from the water bath, the beaker was left for precipitation for at least one hour at room temperature with a covering of aluminum foil to prevent from evaporation losses. The precipitated sample was then shifted to post dried crucibles and was dried overnight in an oven at 100-105@C. After cooling the crucibles in desiccator, crucibles were weighed containing the fiber residue and the celite nearest to 0.1mg (celite bed had been formed in previously tarred crucibles using 15ml of 78%ethanol). The weight of residue was calculated by subtracting the weight of dried crucibles with celite [16].

Pharmacological Studies

Toxicity Studies

For toxicity study wistar strain rats of either sex (160-210g) were divided into four groups (n= 6). Group I and II received phalsa drink in a dose of 0.45g/kg and 0.90g/kg body weight respectively, while Group III received Standard drink as standard in a dose of 0.45g/kg body weight and Group IV received 1ml distilled water as vehicle orally by feeding cannula according to the standard method [19] of acute oral toxicity test.


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13. O. Olusegun and A. Gabriel, International Journal of Plant Physiology and Biochemistry, 3, 95, (2011).

14. D. Singh, L. Wangchu and S. K. Moond, Natural Product Radiance, 6, 315 (2007).

15. P. K. Gathumbi, J. W. Mwangi, G. M. Mugera and S. M. Njiro, Phytotherapy Research, 16, 244 (2002).

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19. T. A. Loomis, In Essentials of Toxicology; 3 rd ed. published by Lea and Febiger, Philadelphia, p 198(1978).
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Author:Atiq-Ur-Rahman; Fatima, Nudrat; Imran, Hina; Saleem, Nida; Sohail, Tehmina; Raif, Muhammad; Yaqeen,
Publication:Journal of the Chemical Society of Pakistan
Article Type:Report
Geographic Code:9PAKI
Date:Jun 30, 2013
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