Tom Greenthumb Gardening

Monday, March 27, 2006

Herbs and spices extracts could be natural antioxidants

If you're looking for an easy to maintain herb to place in your basic herb garden, basil is definitely a wise choice. I recently posted about my "Herb of the Week, Basil", and it's healthy benefits. I ran across an interesting study recently.

"Extracts from laurel and basil are promising alternatives to synthetic antioxidants says new research from Finland.

Interest is growing in plant-derived food additives as replacements to synthetic antioxidants like butylhydroxyanisole (BHA) and butylhydroxytoluene (BHT) to slow down the oxidative deterioration of food.

In the new study, published in the journal Food Chemistry (Vol. 97, pp. 122-129), extracts of nine difference herbs and spices were tested for their antioxidant activity and phenol content, compounds shown to be potent antioxidants.

Extracts were obtained for basil, laurel, parsley, juniper, aniseed, fennel, cumin, cardamom and ginger.

To make the extracts suitable as food additives, the hydrodistillation method was used to remove the essential oils from the herbs and spices that carry the intrinsic flavour.

Imagine the benefits you'd receive by eating the actual herb.

The highest concentrations of phenols were found in basil (147 mg/g) and laurel (92 mg/g).

Perhaps unsurprisingly, given the phenol concentrations, the greatest antioxidant activities were for basil and laurel, for all of the assays except the iron chelation assay.

Basil is generally thought of as a staple plant in your basic herb garden. This study helps validate its healthy attributes.


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