Superfoods for Health - Sea Buckthorn

Despite it's name, Sea Buckthorn, has no title or status in the water world.  However, an argument can be made to crown it both the King and Queen of the plant kingdom!

With relative anonymity in North America, Sea Buckthorn has a long history of medicinal use in Eurasia, giving rise to many Greek  and Mongolian legends.  From giving Pegasus the gift of flight; to reviving wounded war horses; to providing Genghis Khan's armies with the fortitude to conquer their enemies; Sea Buckthorn has earned it's nicknames: "wonder plant, holy fruit',' liquid gold' and 'Superberry'.  Folklore status grew to proven performer when Sea Buckthorn was used by Russian cosmonauts as protection from cosmic radiation; claiming to be the first juice in space.  It was also the basis of the Chinese official drink of the 1992 Seoul Olympic Games.

Sea Buckthorn (H. rhamnoides) boasts an impressively broad nutritional profile in the seeds, fruit, leaves and branches.  It's fruit is among the top sources (per 100g) of antioxidants (beta-carotene, Vit A,C,E) including flavanoids and phytosterols.  Sea Buckthorn is also a rich source of minerals.  However, where Sea Buckthorn really stands out is in it's high free fatty acid content (Omega 3,6,7,9) for a fruiting plant.   It's a challenge to find another fruiting plant that can compare to such a diverse and complete nutritional profile.  Sea Buckthorn is a dioecious species, requiring both male and female trees for fruit production; thus the aforementioned title of both King and Queen of the plant kingdom.

Sea buckthorn can withstand extreme temperatures from –43° to 40°C and is considered to be drought resistant. However, irrigation is needed in regions receiving less than 400 mm (16") of rainfall annually. Sea buckthorn develops an extensive root system rapidly, and is therefore an ideal plant for soil erosion control, land reclamation because of its ability to fix nitrogen and conserve other essential nutrients, wildlife habitat enhancement, and farm stand protection.  Moderate pruning is required to maximize yield and reduce yearly fluctuations. Weed control is very important in sea buckthorn planting, especially for promoting growth of newly planted seedlings.

Harvested components are sold for use in many global markets including cosmetics, skin care, health, sports drinks, animal feed, pharmaceutical and the emerging nutraceutical market.  Once planted, Seabuckthorn leaves can be picked on the second year of growth. The crop will reach peak production in the seventh to eight year. The profit of the crops is expected to be about $10,000 per acre. This is approximately ten times that of apples (3). The projected cost of production, estimated for a 10 acre crop, assuming yields of 6 kg per tree, were $1.05/lb in the seventh year when fruit production had stabilized. The major cost component was hand picking (harvesting), estimated at $.75/lb. This compares to a reported production cost of $1.42/lb  for hand picked Saskatoon berries in a similar sized orchard. Sea buckthorn was reported to have significantly higher yields than Saskatoon berries. For more information on Sea Buckthorn and SuperFoods, visit our website at www.katan.ca or email us at service@katan.ca.

Sources:

http://www4.agr.gc.ca/AAFC-AAC/display-afficher.do id=1198782587774&lang=eng

http://www.agriculture.gov.sk.ca/19970370.pdf

http://www.okanaganseabuckthorn.com/introduction.htp

http://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/ncnu02/v5-393.html

Lu, R. 1992. Sea buckthorn: A multipurpose plant species for fragile mountains. International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development. Karmandu, Nepal.

Li, T.S.C. and W.R. Schroeder. 1996. Sea buckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides L.): A multipurpose plant. HortTechnology 6:370–386.

Li, T.S.C. and W.R. Schroeder. 1999. A growers guide to sea buckthorn. Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada Publ.

Katan Kitchens is as much a personal passion, as a professional venture for Jamie. Having suffered through a ‘health crisis’ in 2007, he has spent the past several years using his research and chemistry/environmental science education towards understanding the role of diet in health; with a focus on SuperFoods for individuals with allergies, intolerances and indigestion. Follow Jamie on Twitter @Katankitchens, or on his blog at katan.ca/blog/

- Jamie Draves, founder of Katan Kitchens