Dipping food in CBD could extend its shelf life for weeks, study reveals

BANGKOK, Thailand — A substance in marijuana may be the secret ingredient that can help keep your strawberries from molding, according to a new study. Researchers in Thailand have found that mixing CBD and sodium alginate into a protective coating extended the berry’s shelf life. CBD is the non-psychoactive compound in cannabis, and recent studies are finding growing evidence that it might hold various health benefits.

CBD has become popular for its anti-anxiety and calming effects, but it does also hold antioxidant and antimicrobial properties. For example, researchers in this study found CBD helped slow down the growth of bacteria and pathogenic fungi that rot fresh fruits and vegetables.

There is one catch. To get it to work, the CBD oil needs to be dispersed evenly in water before scientists can coat food with it.

One way to distribute CBD oil in water is to coat CBD molecules in edible polymers. In the current study, the team tested the antimicrobial effects of a CBD-filled food coating on strawberries. The researchers created the coating to be a biodegradable polymer commonly used in medicinal drugs. The polymer created 400-nm-wide CBD-filled nanoparticles.

Next, they mixed the most stable nanoparticles — containing 20 percent by weight of CBD — with sodium alginate in water. Afterward, the strawberries were put into solutions containing different amounts of nanoparticles before taking a second dip into a mixture of ascorbic acid and calcium chloride. The dip into mixed solutions turned the colorless coating into a gel. Another set of strawberries acted as the control group and did not receive the CBD coating.

Scroll down to see 3 other ways CBD may improve your health

CBD coating on strawberries
A strawberry enveloped in an edible CBD coating (left) still appeared fresh compared to an untreated berry (right) after 15 days. CREDIT: Adapted from ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces 2023

Both treated and untreated strawberries were put into open plastic containers at room temperature. After 15 days, the strawberries coated with the CBD gel ripened and decayed slower than the untreated ones. The authors suggest the difference in decomposition is because the CBD delayed microbial growth. CBD-coated strawberries were also less acidic than untreated strawberries.

The strawberries with coatings containing the most CBD-loaded nanoparticles were the ones with the longest shelf life. According to the authors, these strawberries were exposed to more of CBD’s antioxidant and antimicrobial effects, which allowed them to keep their dark red appearance.

Overall, the study finds coating CBD in a biodegradable antimicrobial gel could help preserve packaged food for longer.

“In the results, a significantly delayed deterioration was observed in terms of weight loss, total acidity, pH, microbial activity, and antioxidant activity for coated strawberries compared to the control,” the study authors write in their new paper.

The next question researchers will have to answer may be the most important one — is it safe for people to eat?

The study was recently published in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces.

3 potential health benefits linked to CBD

  • CBD may prevent epileptic seizures: According to a recent study, CBD appears to block signals from a molecule called lysophosphatidylinositol (LPI) that, if it passes through the brain, amplifies nerve signals that could turn into seizures due to diseases. According to the study authors, CBD could be an option for many treatment-resistant forms of pediatric epilepsy.

  • CBD could serve as a post-surgery pain reliever: In 2022, New York University researchers found the ORAVEXXTM  tablet safely managed patient pain following minimally invasive rotator cuff surgery. Moreover, none of the patients taking the tablet experienced the typical side-effects of CBD use, such as nausea, anxiety, and liver toxicity.

  • CBD reduces Alzheimer’s-related plaque buildups in the brain: In 2021, researchers from the Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University found high doses of CBD restored the function of key proteins that clean up beta-amyloid plaque buildups in the brain. These clumps are one of the major causes of Alzheimer’s, the most common form of dementia.

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About the Author

Jocelyn Solis-Moreira

Jocelyn is a New York-based science journalist whose work has appeared in Discover Magazine, Health, and Live Science, among other publications. She holds a Master’s of Science in Psychology with a concentration in behavioral neuroscience and a Bachelor’s of Science in integrative neuroscience from Binghamton University. Jocelyn has reported on several medical and science topics ranging from coronavirus news to the latest findings in women’s health.

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  1. The study suggesting that dipping food in CBD could potentially prolong its shelf life by weeks is intriguing. If proven effective and safe, this method could revolutionize food preservation, offering a natural alternative to traditional methods.

  2. In the results, a significantly delayed deterioration was observed in terms of weight loss, total acidity, pH, microbial activity, and antioxidant activity for coated strawberries compared to the control,” the study authors write in their new paper.

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