Phenolic acids and antioxidant activity of wheat species: a review

Open access


Wheat (genus Triticum) is considered to be an important source of polyphenols, plant secondary metabolites with numerous health-promoting effects. Many phytochemicals are responsible for the high antioxidant activity of whole grain products. However, there is a lack of information about composition of phenolic acids and their concentrations in different Triticum species. Despite the fact that the increased consumption of whole grain cereals and whole grain-based products has been closely related to reduced risk of chronic diseases, bioactive compounds found in whole grain cereals have not achieved as much attention as the bioactive compounds in vegetables and fruits. Recent studies have revealed that the content of bioactive compounds and antioxidant capacity of whole grain cereals have been regularly undervalued in the literature, because they contain more polyphenols and other phytochemicals than was reported in the past. Phenolic acids represent a large group of bioactive compounds in cereals. These compounds play a significant role in the possible positive effects of the human diet rich in whole grain cereals, especially in wheat and provide health benefits associated with demonstrably diminished risk of chronic disease development. Ferulic acid, the primary and the most abundant phenolic acid contained in wheat grain, is mainly responsible for the antioxidant activity of wheat, particularly bran fraction. In this paper, selected phenolic compounds in wheat, their antioxidant activity and health benefits related to consumption of whole grain cereals are reviewed.

ABDEL-AAL, E.-S.M. – RABALSKI, I. 2008. Bioactive compounds and their antioxidant capacity in selected primitive and modern wheat species. In The Open Agriculture Journal, vol. 2, no. 9, pp. 7–14. DOI: 10.2174/1874331500802010007

ADOM, K.K. – LIU, R.H. 2002. Antioxidant activity of grains. In Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, vol. 50, no. 21, pp. 6182–6187. DOI: 10.1021/jf0205099

ADOM, K.K. – SORRELLS, M.E. – LIU, R.H. 2005. Phytochemical and antioxidant activity of milled fractions of different wheat varieties. In Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, vol. 53, no. 6, pp. 2297–2306. DOI: 10.1021/jf048456d

AINSWORTH, E.A. – GILLESPIE, K.M. 2007. Estimation of total phenolic content and other oxidation substrates in plant tissues using Folin-Ciocalteu reagent. In Nature Protocols, vol. 2, no. 4, pp. 875–877. DOI: 10.1038/nprot.2007.102

ANDERSSON, A.A.M. – DIMBERG, L. – ÅMAN, P. – LANDBERG, R. 2014. Recent findings on certain bioactive components in whole grain wheat and rye. In Journal of Cereal Science, vol. 59, no. 3, pp. 294–311. DOI: 10.1016/j.jcs.2014.01.003

ARNASON, J.T. – GALE, J. – CONILH DE BEYSSAC, B. – SEN, A. – MILLER, S.S. – PHILOGENE, B.J.R. – LAMBERT, J.D.H. – FULCHER, R.G. – SERRATOS, A. – MIHM, J. 1992. Role of phenolics in resistance of maize grain to stored grain insects, Prostphanus truncatus (Horn) and Sitophilus zeamais (Motsch). In Journal of Stored Products and Research, vol. 28, no. 2, pp. 119–126. DOI: 10.1016/0022-474X(92)90019-M

AWIKA, J.M. – ROONEY, L.W. 2004. Sorghum phytochemicals and their potential impact on human health. In Phytochemistry, vol. 65, no. 9, pp. 1199–1221. DOI: 10.1016/j.phytochem.2004.04.001

BALASUNDRAM, N. – SUNDRAM, K. – SAMMAN, S. 2006. Phenolic compounds in plants and agri-industrial by-products: Antioxidant activity, occurrence, and potential uses. In Food Chemistry, vol. 99, no. 1, pp. 191–203. DOI: 10.1016/j.foodchem.2005.07.042

BAUBLIS, A.J. – DECKER, E.A. – CLYDESDALE, F.M. 2000. Antioxidant effect of aqueous extracts from wheat based ready-to-eat breakfast cereals. In Food Chemistry, vol. 68, no. 1, pp. 1–6. DOI: 10.1016/S0308-8146(99)00142-9

BELOBRAJDIC, D.M. – BIRD, A.R. 2013. The potential role of phytochemicals in wholegrain cereals for the prevention of type-2 diabetes. Review. In Nutrition Journal, vol. 12, no. 62, pp. 62–73. DOI: 10.1186/1475-2891-12-62

BONDIA-PONS, I. – AURA, A.M. – VUORELA, S. – KOLEHMAINEN, M. – MYKKÄNEN, H. – POUTANEN, K. 2009. Review: rye phenolics in nutrition and health. In Journal of Cereal Science, vol. 49, no. 3, pp. 323–336. DOI: 10.1016/j.jcs.2009.01.007

BOUTIGNY, A.L. – BARREAU, C. – ATANASOVA-PENICHON, V. – VERDAL-BONNIN, M.N. – PINSON-GADAIS, L. – RICHARD-FORGET, F. 2009. Ferulic acid, an efficient inhibitor of type B trichothecene biosynthesis and Tri gene expression in Fusarium liquid cultures. In Mycological Research, vol. 113, no. 6–7, pp. 746–753. DOI: 10.1016/j.mycres.2009.02.010

BOZ, H. 2015. Ferulic acid in cereals: A review. In Czech Journal of Food Sciences, vol. 33, no. 1, pp. 1–7. DOI: 10.17221/401/2014-CJFS

BRANDOLINI, A. – CASTOLDI, P. – PLIZZARI, L. – HIDALGO, A. 2013. Phenolic acids composition, total polyphenols content and antioxidant activity of Triticum monococcum, Triticum turgidum and Triticum aestivum: A two-years evaluation. In Journal of Cereal Science, vol. 58, no. 1, pp. 123–131. DOI: 10.1016/j.jcs.2013.03.011

BRANDOLINI, A. – HIDALGO, A. – MOSCARITOLO, S. 2008. Chemical composition and pasting properties of einkorn (Triticum monococcum L. subsp. monococcum) whole meal flour. In Journal of Cereal Science, vol. 47, no. 3, pp. 599–609. DOI: 10.1016/j.jcs.2007.07.005

CAI, L. – CHOI, I. – LEE, C.K. – PARK, K.K. – BAIK, B.K. 2014. Bran characteristics and bread-baking quality of whole grain wheat flour. In Cereal Chemistry, vol. 91, no. 4, pp. 398–405. DOI: 10.1094/CCHEM-09-13-0198-R

CAPRITA, R. – CAPRITA, A. – CRETESCU, I. 2011. Effect of extraction conditions on the solubility of non-starch polysaccharides of wheat and barley. In Journal of Food, Agriculture and Environment, vol. 9, no. 3–4, pp. 41–43.

CHETHAN, S. – DHARMESH, S.M. – MALLESHI, N.G. 2008. Inhibition of aldose reductase from cataracted eye lenses by finger millet (Eleusine coracana) polyphenols. In Bioorganic and Medicinal Chemistry, vol. 16, no. 23, pp. 10085–10090. DOI: 10.1016/j.bmc.2008.10.003

DEWANTO, V. – WU, X.Z. – LIU, R.H. 2002. Processed sweet corn has higher antioxidant activity. In Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, vol. 50, no. 17, pp. 4959–4954. DOI: 10.1021/jf0255937

DIMBERG, L.H. – SUNNERHEIM, K. – SUNDBERG, B. – WALSH, K. 2001. Stability of oat avenanthramides. In Cereal Chemistry, vol. 78, no. 3, pp. 278–281. DOI: 10.1094/CCHEM.2001.78.3.278

EL-SAYED, M.A.-A. – RABALSKI, I. 2013. Effect of baking on free and bound phenolic acids in wholegrain bakery products. In Journal of Cereal Science, vol. 57, no. 3, pp. 312–318. DOI: 10.1016/j.jcs.2012.12.001

FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations), 2015. Food Outlook. Available at (accessed June 26, 2017)

FARDET, A. 2010. New hypotheses for the health-protective mechanisms of whole-grain cereals: what is beyond fibre? In Nutrition Research Reviews, vol. 23, no. 1, pp. 65–134. DOI: 10.1017/S0954422410000041

FERGUSON, L.R. – ZHU, S.T. – HARRIS, P.J. 2005. Antioxidant and antigenotoxic effects of plant cell wall hydroxycinnamic acids in cultured HT-29 cells. In Molecular Nutrition & Food Research, vol. 49, no. 6, pp. 585–593. DOI: 10.1002/mnfr.200500014

FERNANDEZ-OROZCO, R. – LI, L. – HARFLETT, C. 2010. Effects of environment and genotype on phenolic acids in wheat in the HEALTHGRAIN diversity screen. In Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, vol. 58, no. 17, pp. 9341–9352. DOI: 10.1021/jf102017s

GANI, A. – WANI, S.M. – MASOODI, F.A. – HAMEED, G. 2012. Whole-Grain Cereal Bioactive Compounds and Their Health Benefits: A Review. In Journal of Food Processing & Technology, vol. 3, no. 3, pp. 1–10. DOI: 10.4172/2157-7110.1000146

GARRAIT, G. – JARRIGE J.F. – BLANQUET, S. – BEYSSAC, E. – CARDOT, J.M. – ALRIC, M. 2006. Gastrointestinal absorption and urinary excretion of trans-cinnamic and p-coumaric acids in rats. In Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, vol. 54, no. 8, pp. 2944–2950. DOI: 10.1021/jf053169a

GAWLIK-DZIKI, U. – SWIECA, M. – DZIKI, D. 2012. Comparison of phenolic acid profile and antioxidant potential of six varieties of spelt (Triticum spelta L.). In Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, vol. 60, no. 18, pp. 4603–4612. DOI: 10.1021/jf3011239

HARBORNE, J.B. – WILLIAMS, C.A. 2000. Advances in flavonoid research since 1992. In Phytochemistry, vol. 55, no. 6, pp. 481–504. DOI: 10.1016/S0031-9422(00)00235-1

HEIM, K.E. – TAGLIAFERRO, A.R. – BOBILYA, D.J. 2002. Flavonoid antioxidants: chemistry, metabolism and structure–activity relationships. In The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, vol. 13, no. 10, pp. 572–584. DOI: 10.1016/S0955-2863(02)00208-5

HERNÁNDEZ, L. – AFONSO, D. – RODRÍGUES, E.M. – DIAZ, C. 2011. Phenolic compounds in wheat grain cultivars. In Plant Foods for Human Nutrition, vol. 66, no. 4, pp. 408–415. DOI: 10.1007/s11130-011-0261-1

HIDALGO, A. – BRANDOLINI, A. 2017. Nitrogen fertilisation effects on technological parameters and carotenoid, tocol and phenolic acid content of einkorn (Triticum monococcum L. subsp. monococcum): A two-year evaluation. In Journal of Cereal Science, vol. 73, pp. 18–24. DOI:

HIDALGO, A. – BRANDOLINI, A. – POMPEI, C. – PISCOZZI, R. 2006. Carotenoids and tocols of einkorn wheat (Triticum monococcum ssp. monococcum L.). In Journal of Cereal Science, vol. 44, no. 2, pp. 182–193. DOI: 10.1016/j.jcs.2006.06.002

KARUNARATNE, R. – ZHU, F. 2016. Physicochemical interactions of maize starch with ferulic acid. In Food Chemistry, vol. 199, pp. 372–379. DOI: 10.1016/j.foodchem.2015.12.033

KILIÇA, I. – YEŞILOĞLUB, Y. 2013. Spectroscopic studies on the antioxidant activity of p-coumaric acid. In Spectrochimica Acta Part A: Molecular and Biomolecular Spectroscopy, vol. 115, pp. 719–724. DOI: 10.1016/j.saa.2013.06.110

KIM, K.H. – TSAO, R. – YANG, R. – CUI, S.W. 2006. Phenolic acid profiles and antioxidant activities of wheat bran extracts and the effect of hydrolysis conditions. In Food Chemistry, vol. 95, no. 3, 466–473. DOI: 10.1016/j.foodchem.2005.01.032

KIM, M.J. – KIM, S.S. 2016. Antioxidant and antiproliferative activities in immature and mature wheat kernels. In Food Chemistry, vol. 196, pp. 638–645. DOI: 10.1016/j.foodchem.2015.09.095

KOSÍK, T. – LACKO-BARTOŠOVÁ, M. – KOBIDA, Ľ. 2014a. Free phenol content and antioxidant activity of winter wheat in sustainable farming systems. In Journal of Microbiology, Biotechnology and Food Sciences, vol. 3, special issue 3, pp. 247–249.

KOSÍK, T. – LACKO-BARTOŠOVÁ, M. – KOBIDA, Ľ. 2014b. Influence of agricultural practices on phenolics and flavonoids of winter wheat. In BELLEROVÁ, B. – CHLEBO, P. (Eds.) Inovácie technológií špeciálnych výrobkov biopotravín pre zdravú výživu ľudí. Nitra: Slovak University of Agriculture, pp. 145–151. ISBN 978-80-552-1272-2

KOSÍK, T. – LACKO-BARTOŠOVÁ, M. – KOBIDA, Ľ. 2014c. Influence of agricultural practices on phenols and antioxidant activity of winter wheat. In BELLEROVÁ, B. – CHLEBO, P. (Eds.) Inovácie technológií špeciálnych výrobkov biopotravín pre zdravú výživu ľudí. Nitra : Slovak University of Agriculture, pp. 152–158. ISBN 978-80-552-1272-2

KUMAR, N. – PRUTHI, V. 2014. Potential applications of ferulic acid from natural sources. In Biotechnology Reports, vol. 4, pp. 86–93. DOI: 10.1016/j.btre.2014.09.002

LACKO-BARTOŠOVÁ, M. – KOSÍK, T. – KOBIDA, Ľ. 2013. Free flavonoid content and antioxidant activity of winter wheat in sustainable farming systems. In Journal of Microbiology, Biotechnology and Food Sciences, vol. 2, special issue 1, pp. 2099–2107.

LEMPEREUR, I. – ROUAU, X. – ABECASSIS, J. 1997. Genetic and agronomic variation in arabinoxylan and ferulic acid contents of durum wheat (Triticum durum L.) grain and its milling fractions. In Journal of Cereal Science, vol. 25, no. 2, pp. 103–110. DOI: 10.1006/jcrs.1996.0090

LI, L. – SHEWRY, R. – WARD, J.L. 2008. Phenolic acids in wheat varieties in the Healthgrain diversity screen. In Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, vol. 56, no. 21, pp. 9732–9739. DOI: 10.1021/jf801069s

LIU, R.H. 2007. Whole grain phytochemicals and health. In Journal of Cereal Science, vol. 46, no. 3, pp. 207–219. DOI: 10.1016/j.jcs.2007.06.010

LIYANA-PATHIRANA, C. – DEXTER, J. – SHAHIDI, F. 2006. Antioxidant Properties of Wheat as Affected by Pearling. In Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, vol. 54, no. 17, pp. 6177–6184. DOI: 10.1021/jf060664d

LV, J. – YU, L. – LU, Y. – NIU, Y. – LIU, L. – COSTA, J. – YU, L. 2006. Phytochemical compositions, and antioxidant properties, and antiproliferative activities of wheat flour. In Food Chemistry, vol. 135, no. 2, pp. 325–331. DOI: 10.1016/J.FOODCHEM.2012.04.141

MADHUJITH, T. – IZYDORCZYK, M. – SHAHIDI, F. 2006. Antioxidant Properties of Pearled Barley Fractions. In Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, vol. 54, no. 9, pp. 3283–3289. DOI: 10.1021/jf0527504

MAKI, K.C. – GIBSON, G.R. – DICKMANN, R.S. – KENDALL, C.W.C. – CHEN, C.Y.O. – COSTABILE, A. – COMELLI, E.M. – MCKAY, D.L. – ALMEIDA, N.G. – JENKINS, D. – ZELLO, G.A. – BLUMBERG, J.B. 2012. Digestive and physiologic effects of a wheat bran extract, arabino-xylan-oligosaccharide, in breakfast cereal. In Nutrition, vol. 28, no. 11–12, pp. 1115–1121. DOI: 10.1016/j.nut.2012.02.010

MANCUSO, C. – SANTANGELO, R. 2014. Ferulic acid: Pharmacological and toxicological aspects. In Food and Chemical Toxicology, vol. 65, pp. 185–195. DOI: 10.1016/j.fct.2013.12.024

MATTILA, P. – PIHLAVA, J.M. – HELLSTRÖM, J. 2005. Contents of phenolic acids, alkyl- and alkenylresorcinols, and avenanthramides in commercial grain products. In Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, vol. 53, no. 21, pp. 8290–8295. DOI: 10.1021/jf051437z

MENGA, V. – FARES, C. – TROCCOLI, A. – CATTIVELLI, L. – BAIANO, A. 2010. Effects of genotype, location and baking on the phenolic content and some antioxidant properties of cereal species. In International Journal of Food Science and Technology, vol. 45, no. 1, pp. 7–16. DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2621.2009.02072.x

MOORE, J. – HAO, Z. – ZHOU, K. – LUTHER, M. – COSTA, J. – YU, L.L. 2005. Carotenoid, tocopherol, phenolic acid, and antioxidant properties of maryland-grown soft wheat. In Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, vol. 53, no. 17, pp. 6649–6657. DOI: 10.1021/jf050481b

NACZK, M. – SHAHIDI, F. 2004. Extraction and analysis of phenolics in food. In Journal of Chromatography A, vol. 1054, no. 1–2, pp. 95–111. DOI: 10.1016/S0021-9673(04)01409-8

OKARTER, N. 2011. Phenolic extracts from insoluble-bound fraction of whole wheat inhibit the proliferation of colon cancer cells. In Life Sciences and Medicine Research, vol. 38, pp. 1–10.

OKARTER, N. – LIU, C.-S. – SORRELLS, M.E. – LIU, R.H. 2010. Phytochemical content and antioxidant activity of six diverse varieties of whole wheat. In Food Chemistry, vol. 119, no. 1, pp. 249–257. DOI: 10.1016/j.foodchem.2009.06.021

ONYENEHO, S.N. – HETTIARACHCHY, N.S. 1992. Antioxidant activity of durum wheat bran. In Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, vol. 40, no. 9, pp. 1496–1500. DOI: 10.1021/jf00021a005

PÉREZ-JIMENÉZ, J. – SAURA-CALIXTO, F. 2005. Literature data may underestimate the actual antioxidant capacity of cereals. In Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, vol. 53, no. 12, pp. 5036–5040. DOI: 10.1021/jf050049u

QUIÑONES, M. – MIGUEL, M. – ALEIXANDRE, A. 2013. Beneficial effects of polyphenols on cardiovascular disease. In Pharmacological Research, vol. 68, no. 1, pp. 125–131. DOI: 10.1016/j.phrs.2012.10.018

RAGAEE, S. – GUZAR, I. – ABDEL-AAL, E.-S.M. – SEETHARAMAN, K. 2012. Bioactive components and antioxidant capacity of Ontario hard and soft wheat varieties. In Canadian Journal of Plant Science, vol. 92, no. 1, pp. 19–30. DOI: 10.4141/cjps2011-100

SCALBERT, A. – MORAND, C. – MANACH, C. – RÉMÉSY, C. 2002. Absorption and metabolism of polyphenols in the gut and impact on health. In Biomedicine & Pharmacotherapy, vol. 56, no. 6, pp. 276–282.

SERPEN, A. – GÖKMEN, V. – KARAGÖZ, A. – KÖKSEL, H. 2008. Phytochemical quantification and total antioxidant capacities of emmer (Triticum dicoccum Schrank) and einkorn (Triticum monococcum L.) wheat landraces. In Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, vol. 56, no. 16, pp. 7285–7292. DOI: 10.1021/jf8010855

SOSULSKI, F. – KRYGIER, K. – HOGGE, L. 1982. Free, esterified, and insoluble-bound phenolic acids. 3. Composition of phenolic acids in cereal and potato flours. In Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry, vol. 30, no. 2, pp. 337–340. DOI: 10.1021/jf00110a030

SUZUKI, A. – YAMAMOTO, M. – JOKURA, H. – FUJII, A. – TOKIMITSU, I. – HASE, T. – SAITO, I. 2007. Ferulic acid restores endothelium-dependent vasodilation in aortas of spontaneously hypertensive rats. In American Journal of Hypertension, vol. 20, no. 5, pp. 508–513. DOI: 10.1016/j.amjhyper.2006.11.008

THOMPSON, L.U. 1994. Antioxidants and hormone-mediated health benefits of whole grains. In Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, vol. 34, no. 5–6, pp. 473–497.

TORRES Y TORRES, J.L. – ROSAZZA, J.P.N. 2001. Microbial transformations of p-coumaric acid by Bacillus megaterium and Curvularia lunata. In Journal of Natural Products, vol. 64, no. 11, pp. 1408–1414. DOI: 10.1021/np010238g

VAHER, M. – MATSO, K. – LEVANDI, T. – HELMJA, K. – KALJURAND, M. 2010. Phenolic compounds and the antioxidant activity of the bran, flour and whole grain of different wheat varieties. In Procedia Chemistry, vol. 2, no. 1, pp. 76–82. DOI: 10.1016/j.proche.2009.12.013

VAN HUNG, P. – MAEDA, T. – MIYATAKE, K. – MORITA, N. 2009. Total phenolic compounds and antioxidant capacity of wheat graded flours by polishing method. In Food Research International, vol. 42, no. 1, pp. 185–190. DOI: 0.1016/j.foodres.2008.10.005

VERMA, B. – HUCL, P. – CHIBBAR, R.N. 2008. Phenolic content and antioxidant properties of bran in 51 wheat cultivars. In Cereal Chemistry, vol. 85, no. 4, pp. 544–549. DOI: 10.1094/CCHEM-85-4-0544

VOLKAN, A.Y. – BRANDOLINI, A. – HIDALGO, A. 2015. Phenolic acids and antioxidant activity of wild, feral and domesticated diploid wheats. In Journal of Cereal Science, vol. 64, pp. 168–175. DOI:

WILLCOX, J.K. – ASH, S.L. – CATIGNANI, G.L. 2004. Antioxidants and prevention of chronic disease. In Critical reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, vol. 44, no. 4, pp. 275–295. DOI: 10.1080/10408690490468489

YU, L. – PERRET, J. – HARRIS, M. – WILSON, J. – HALEY, S. 2003. Antioxidant properties of bran extracts from “Akron” wheat grown at different locations. In Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, vol. 51, no. 6, pp. 1566–1570. DOI: 10.1021/jf020950z

YU, V. – VASANTHAN, T. – TEMELLI, F. 2001. Analysis of phenolic acids in barley by high-performance liquid chromatography. In Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, vol. 49, no. 9, pp. 4352–4358. DOI: 10.1021/jf0013407

ZHAO, Z. – MOGHADASIAN, M.H. 2010. Bioavailability of hydroxycinnamates: a brief review of in vivo and in vitro studies. In Phytochemistry Reviews, vol. 9, no. 1, pp. 133–145.

ZHOU, K. – SU, L. – YU, L.L. 2004. Phytochemicals and antioxidant properties in wheat bran. In Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, vol. 52, no. 20, pp. 6108–6114. DOI: 10.1021/jf049214g

ZUCHOWSKI, J. – JONCZYK, K. – PECIO, L. – OLESZEK, W. 2011. Phenolic acid concentrations in organically and conventionally cultivated spring and winter wheat. In Journal of the Science and Food Agriculture, vol. 91, no. 6, pp. 1089–1095. DOI: 10.1002/jsfa.4288

Agriculture (Pol'nohospodárstvo)

The Journal of National Agricultural and Food Centre

Journal Information

CiteScore 2017: 0.58

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2017: 0.194
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2017: 0.279


All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 0 0 0
Full Text Views 388 388 48
PDF Downloads 194 194 29