Carotenoids from Herbs

June 30/Cork, Ireland/Food & Farm Week -- "Herbs are a rich source of bioactive phytochemicals such as carotenoids, which are known to exert various positive biological effects. However, there is very limited information in the literature regarding the content and bioavailability of carotenoids from commonly consumed herbs," scientists in Cork, Ireland, report.

"Therefore, the objectives of the present study were first, to determine the carotenoid content of eight herbs namely basil (Ocimum basilicum), coriander (Coriandrum sativum), dill (Anethum graveolens), mint (Metha L.), parsley (Petroselinum crispum), rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis), sage (Salvia officinalis) and tarragon (Artemisia dracunculus L.); and second, to assess carotenoid bioaccessibility from these herbs using a simulated human in vitro digestion model. Carotenoid bioaccessibility is defined as the amount of carotenoids transferred to micelles after digestion when compared with the original amount present in the food. The content of individual carotenoids varied significantly among the herbs tested. Carotenoid bioaccessibility varied from 0 to 42.8%. Basil and coriander, and their respective micelles, contained the highest levels of beta-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin, and lutein + zeaxanthin," wrote T. Daly and colleagues.

The researchers concluded, "Our findings show that herbs are rich sources of carotenoids and that these foods can significantly contribute to the intake of bioaccessible carotenoids."

Daly and colleagues published their study in Plant Foods for Human Nutrition ("Carotenoid Content of Commonly Consumed Herbs and Assessment of Their Bioaccessibility Using an In Vitro Digestion Model." Plant Foods for Human Nutrition, 2010;65(2):164-169).

For more information, contact S.A. Aherne, University of College Cork, Dept. of Nutrition & Food Science, Cork, Ireland.

From the July 2, 2010, Prepared Foods' Daily News
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