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Aromatic Plants as a Source of Bioactive Compounds

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Agriculture

MDPI AG

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      Biological effects of essential oils--a review.

      Since the middle ages, essential oils have been widely used for bactericidal, virucidal, fungicidal, antiparasitical, insecticidal, medicinal and cosmetic applications, especially nowadays in pharmaceutical, sanitary, cosmetic, agricultural and food industries. Because of the mode of extraction, mostly by distillation from aromatic plants, they contain a variety of volatile molecules such as terpenes and terpenoids, phenol-derived aromatic components and aliphatic components. In vitro physicochemical assays characterise most of them as antioxidants. However, recent work shows that in eukaryotic cells, essential oils can act as prooxidants affecting inner cell membranes and organelles such as mitochondria. Depending on type and concentration, they exhibit cytotoxic effects on living cells but are usually non-genotoxic. In some cases, changes in intracellular redox potential and mitochondrial dysfunction induced by essential oils can be associated with their capacity to exert antigenotoxic effects. These findings suggest that, at least in part, the encountered beneficial effects of essential oils are due to prooxidant effects on the cellular level.
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        Flavonoid antioxidants: chemistry, metabolism and structure-activity relationships.

        Flavonoids are a class of secondary plant phenolics with significant antioxidant and chelating properties. In the human diet, they are most concentrated in fruits, vegetables, wines, teas and cocoa. Their cardioprotective effects stem from the ability to inhibit lipid peroxidation, chelate redox-active metals, and attenuate other processes involving reactive oxygen species. Flavonoids occur in foods primarily as glycosides and polymers that are degraded to variable extents in the digestive tract. Although metabolism of these compounds remains elusive, enteric absorption occurs sufficiently to reduce plasma indices of oxidant status. The propensity of a flavonoid to inhibit free-radical mediated events is governed by its chemical structure. Since these compounds are based on the flavan nucleus, the number, positions, and types of substitutions influence radical scavenging and chelating activity. The diversity and multiple mechanisms of flavonoid action, together with the numerous methods of initiation, detection and measurement of oxidative processes in vitro and in vivo offer plausible explanations for existing discrepancies in structure-activity relationships. Despite some inconsistent lines of evidence, several structure-activity relationships are well established in vitro. Multiple hydroxyl groups confer upon the molecule substantial antioxidant, chelating and prooxidant activity. Methoxy groups introduce unfavorable steric effects and increase lipophilicity and membrane partitioning. A double bond and carbonyl function in the heterocycle or polymerization of the nuclear structure increases activity by affording a more stable flavonoid radical through conjugation and electron delocalization. Further investigation of the metabolism of these phytochemicals is justified to extend structure-activity relationships (SAR) to preventive and therapeutic nutritional strategies.
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          Antioxidant activity of plant extracts containing phenolic compounds.

          The antioxidative activity of a total of 92 phenolic extracts from edible and nonedible plant materials (berries, fruits, vegetables, herbs, cereals, tree materials, plant sprouts, and seeds) was examined by autoxidation of methyl linoleate. The content of total phenolics in the extracts was determined spectrometrically according to the Folin-Ciocalteu procedure and calculated as gallic acid equivalents (GAE). Among edible plant materials, remarkable high antioxidant activity and high total phenolic content (GAE > 20 mg/g) were found in berries, especially aronia and crowberry. Apple extracts (two varieties) showed also strong antioxidant activity even though the total phenolic contents were low (GAE < 12.1 mg/g). Among nonedible plant materials, high activities were found in tree materials, especially in willow bark, spruce needles, pine bark and cork, and birch phloem, and in some medicinal plants including heather, bog-rosemary, willow herb, and meadowsweet. In addition, potato peel and beetroot peel extracts showed strong antioxidant effects. To utilize these significant sources of natural antioxidants, further characterization of the phenolic composition is needed.
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            Author and article information

            Journal
            ABSGFK
            Agriculture
            Agriculture
            MDPI AG
            2077-0472
            September 2012
            September 20 2012
            : 2
            : 3
            : 228-243
            10.3390/agriculture2030228
            © 2012

            https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

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            Self URI (article page): http://www.mdpi.com/2077-0472/2/3/228

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