Antioxidant Activity and Phenolic Compounds in Selected Herbs
and Shiow Y. Wang*
Fruit Laboratory, Beltsville Agricultural Research Center, Agricultural Research Service,U. S. Department of Agriculture, Beltsville, Maryland 20705
The antioxidant capacities (oxygen radical absorbance capacity, ORAC) and total phenolic contentsin extracts of 27 culinary herbs and 12 medicinal herbs were determined. The ORAC values andtotal phenolic contents for the medicinal herbs ranged from 1.88 to 22.30
mol of Trolox equivalents(TE)/g of fresh weight and 0.23 to 2.85 mg of gallic acid equivalents (GAE)/g of fresh weight,respectively.
have higherORAC and phenolic contents as compared to other culinary herbs. The ORAC values and totalphenolic content for the culinary herbs ranged from 2.35 to 92.18
mol of TE/g of fresh weight and0.26 to 17.51 mg of GAE/g of fresh weight, respectively. These also were much higher than valuesfound in the medicinal herbs. The medicinal herbs with the highest ORAC values were
. A linear relationship existedbetween ORAC values and total phenolic contents of the medicinal herbs (
0.919) and culinaryherbs (
0.986). High-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) coupled with diode-arraydetection was used to identify and quantify the phenolic compounds in selected herbs. Among theidentified phenolic compounds, rosmarinic acid was the predominant phenolic compound in
Thymus vulgaris, Origanum
, whereas quercetin-3-
6)-glucoside and kaempferol-3-
6)-glucoside were predominant phenolic compounds in
Antioxidant; phenolics; medicinal herbs; culinary herbs
Antioxidants are compounds that can delay or inhibitthe oxidation of lipids or other molecules by inhibitingthe initiation or propagation of oxidizing chain reactions(
). The antioxidant activity of phenolic compounds ismainly due to their redox properties, which can playan important role in adsorbing and neutralizing freeradicals, quenching singlet and triplet oxygen, or de-composing peroxides (
). In general, there are two basiccategories of antioxidants, natural and synthetic. Re-cently, interest has increased considerably in findingnaturally occurring antioxidants for use in foods ormedicinal materials to replace synthetic antioxidants,which are being restricted due to their carcinogenicity(
). Herbs have been used for a large range of purposesincluding medicine, nutrition, flavorings, beverages,dyeing, repellents, fragrances, cosmetics, charms, smok-ing, and industrial uses. Since prehistoric times, herbswere the basis for nearly all medicinal therapy untilsynthetic drugs were developed in the nineteenthcentury. Today, herbs are still found in 40% of prescrip-tion drugs (
). Culinary herbs have been grown and usedfor hundreds of years, and they are becoming increas-ingly popular in the United States for their ability toenhance and complement the flavors of a wide varietyof foods (
).Even though a variety of herbs are known to besources of phenolic compounds, their compositional dataare insufficient (
). Moreover, various herbs along withvegetables and fruits contain numerous phytochemicalsin addition to phenolic compounds, such as nitrogencompounds, carotenoids, and ascorbic acid (
). Manyof these phytochemicals possess significant antioxidantcapacities that are associated with lower incidence andlower mortality rates of cancer in several human cohort(
).The purpose of this study was to (i) evaluate a varietyof culinary and medicinal herbs that were growing inthe same location and same conditions with respect totheir total phenolic content and antioxidant activity tofind new potential sources of natural antioxidants; (ii)evaluate the relationship between phenolic content andantioxidant activity; and (iii) develop chromatographicprocedures to identify and quantify phenolic antioxi-dants in selected herbs by high-performance liquidchromatography (HPLC).
MATERIALS AND METHODS
-Azobis(2-amidinopropane) dihydrochloride(AAPH) was purchased from Wako Chemicals USA Inc,(Richmond VA). (
)-Phycoerythrin (R-PE) was obtained fromSigma (St. Louis, MO). 6-Hydroxy-2,3,7,8-tetramethylchro-man-2-carboxylic acid (Trolox) was purchased from Aldrich(Milwaukee, WI). Acetonitrile, methanol, acetone, and waterwere of HPLC grade and were purchased from Baxter (Muskeg-on, MI). Authentic standards were obtained from SigmaChemical Co. (St. Louis, MO), Fisher Scientific Co. (Pittsburgh,PA), and Indofine Chemical Co. (Somerville, NJ).
The 39 different herbs (Table 1),including medicinal and culinary herbs, were collected onSeptember 2000 from the National Herb Garden, which is part* To whom correspondence should be addressed[telephone (301) 504-5776; fax (301) 504-5062; E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org].
Visiting scientist from Institute of Environmental Science,Zhejiang University at Yuquan, Hangzhou, Zhejiang 310027,P. R. China.
J. Agric. Food Chem.
517010.1021/jf010697n This article not subject to U.S. Copyright. Published 2001 by the American Chemical SocietyPublished on Web 09/28/2001