Searching for Natural, Plant-derived Antioxidants

March 4/Food & Farm Week -- Per research from Tarbiat Modares University, "The search for natural antioxidants, especially of plant origin, has notably increased in recent years. Bunium persicum Boiss. is an economically important medicinal plant growing wild in the dry temperature regions in Iran. In this study, chemical constituents of the essential oil of the seed from Bunium persicum Boiss.  have been studied by GC/MS technique," researchers in in Iran report.

"The major components were caryophyllene (27.81%), gamma-tetpinene (15.19%), cuminyl acetate (14.67%). Individual antioxidant assays, such as DPPH. scavenging activity and beta-carotene bleaching, have been carried out.

"In the DPPH. system, the EC50 value of essential oil was determined as 0.88mg/mL.

"In beta-carotene bleaching, the antioxidant activity of the essential oil (0.45%) was almost equal to BHT at 0.01%. In addition, the antioxidant activity of the essential oil was evaluated in crude soybean oil by monitoring peroxide and thiobarbituric acid values of the oil substrate. The results showed that the Bunium persicum essential on (BPEO) was able to reduce the oxidation rate of the soybean oil in the accelerated condition at 60 C (oven test). The essential oil at 0.06% showed the same effect of BHA at 0.02%," wrote N. Shahsavari and colleagues, Tarbiat Modares University.

The researchers concluded, "Hence, BPEO could be used as an additive in food after screening."

Shahsavari and colleagues published their study in Plant Foods for Human Nutrition ("Antioxidant Activity and Chemical Characterization of Essential Oil of Bunium persicum." Plant Foods for Human Nutrition, 2008;63(4):183-188).

For additional information, contact M. Barzegar, Tarbiat Modares University, Dept. of Food Science & Technology, POB 14115-336, Tehran, Iran.

From the March 16, 2009, Prepared Foods E-dition