Antioxidant properties of selected culinary spices

Open access


Introduction: Seasonings added to food enhance its flavor and texture. Some of them can also extend their shelf-lives thanks to the presence of antioxidant compounds. Objective: The aim of the study was to investigate twenty eight commercially available spices for the total phenolic contents and antioxidant activity. Methods: Total phenols were estimated according to the Folin-Ciocalteu method. Antioxidant activities of the extracts were determined with DPPH assay. Results: Our results showed that the most of analysed spices are rich in phenolic compounds and demonstrate good antioxidant activity. The total polyphenol content oscillated around 0.9-155.1 mg GAE/g with the lowest value for sesame and the highest for cinnamon. The DPPH radical scavenging ability expressed as % ranged from 4.1% for sesame to 94.9% for cloves. Moreover, a moderate correlation (r=0.63, p<0.05) was reported between antioxidant activity and total phenolics, revealing that phenolic compounds are the important antioxidant components in the examined spices. Conclusion: The study shows also that a lot of spices can serve as food preservatives and, at the same time, have a beneficial effect on human health.

1. Gill SS, Tuteja N. Reactive oxygen species and antioxidant machinery in abiotic stress tolerance in crop plants. Plant Physiol Biochem 2010; 48:909-930. doi:

2. Sharma P, Jha AB, Dubey RS, Pessarakli M. Reactive oxygen species, oxidative damage, and antioxidative defense mechanism in plants under stressful conditions. J Botany 2012; 217037:1-26. doi:

3. Aruoma OL. Free radicals, oxidative stress and antioxidants in human health and disease. J Am Oil Chem Soc 1998; 75:199-212. doi:

4. Victor VM, Rocha M. Targeting antioxidants to mitochondria: a potential new therapeutic strategy for cardiovascular diseases. Curr Pharm Des 2007; 13:845-863. doi:

5. Gerber M, Boutron-Ruault MC, Hercberg S, Riboli E, Scalbert A, Siess MH. Food and cancer: state of the art about the protective effect of fruits and vegetables. Bull Cancer 2002; 89:293-312.

6. Di Matteo V, Esposito E. Biochemical and therapeutic effects of antioxidants in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Curr Drug Targets CNS Neurol Disord 2003; 2:95-107. doi:

7. Jensen GS, Wu X, Patterson KM, Barnes J, Carter SG, Scherwitz L et al. In vitro and in vivo antioxidant and anti-inflammatory capacities of an antioxidant-rich fruit and berry juice blend. Results of a pilot and randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled, crossover study. J Agr Food Chem 2008; 56:8326-8333. doi:

8. Witschi HP. Enhanced tumour development by butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) in the liver, lung and gastro-intestinal tract. Food Chem Toxicol 1986; 24:1127-1130. doi:

9. Grice HC. Safety evaluation of butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) from the perspective of effects on forestomach and oesophageal squamous epithelium. Food Chem Toxicol 1988; 26:717-723.

10. Drużyńska B, Wojda M. Antioxidant properties of acetone extracts from selected fresh and dried spices. Pol J Food Nutr Sci 2007; 57:47-51.

11. Suhaj M. Spice antioxidants isolation and their antiradical activity: a review. J Food Compos Anal 2006; 19:531-537. doi:

12. Singleton VL, Rossi JR. Colorimetry of total phenolics with phosphomolybdic-phosphotungstic acid. Am J Enol Vitic 1965; 16:144-158.

13. Brand-Williams W, Cuvelier, ME, Berset C. Use of a free radical method to evaluate antioxidant activity. LWT-Food Sci Technol 1995; 28:25-30. doi:

14. Su L, Yin Zhou K, Moore J, Yu L. Total phenolic contents, chelating capacities, and radical-scavenging properties of black peppercorn, nutmeg, rosehip, cinnamon and oregano leaf. Food Chem 2007; 100:990-997. doi:

15. Krishnaiah D, Sarbatly R, Nithyanandam R. A review of the antioxidant potential of medicinal plant species. Food Bioprod Process 2011; 89:217-233. doi:

16. Kim I-S, Yang M-R, Lee O-H, Kang S-N. Antioxidant activities of hot water extracts from various spices. Int J Mol Sci 2011; 12:4120-4131. doi:

17. Modnicki D, Balcerek M. Estimation of total polyphenols contents in Ocimum basilicum L., Origanum vulgare L. and Thymus vulgaris L. commercial samples. Herba Pol 2009; 55:35-42.

18. Czapecka E, Mareczek A, Leja M. Antioxidant activity of fresh and dry herbs of some Lamiaceae species. Food Chem 2005; 93:223-226. doi:

19. Khomdram SD, Singh PK. Polyphenolic compounds and free radical scavenging activity in eight Lamiaceae herbs of manipur. Not Sci Biol 2011; 3:108-113.

20. Cioroi M, Dumitriu D. Studies on total polyphenols content and antioxidant activity of aqueous extracts from selected Lamiaceae species. AUDJG - Food Technology 2009; 34:42-46.

21. Shan B, Cai YZ, Sun M, Corke H. Antioxidant capacity of 26 spice extracts and characterization of their phenolic constituents. J Agr Food Chem 2005; 53:7749-7759. doi:

22. Hossain MB, Rai DK, Brunton NP, Martin-Diana A, Barry-Ryan C. Characterization of phenolic composition in Lamiaceae spices by LC-ESI-MS/MS. J Agr Food Chem 2010; 58:10576-10581. doi:

23. Chen JH, Ho CT. Antioxidant activities of caffeic acid and its related hydroxycinnamic acid compounds. J Agric Food Chem 1997; 45(7):2374-2378. doi:

24. Zheng W, Wang S. Antioxidant activity and phenolic compounds in selected herbs. J Agr Food Chem 2001; 49:5165-5170. doi:

25. Hinneburg I, Dorman HJD, Hiltunen R. Antioxidant activities of extracts from selected culinary herbs and spices. Food Chem 2006; 97:122-129. doi:

26. Kähkönen MP, Hopia AI, Vourela HJ, Rauha JP, Pihlaja K, Kujala TS et al. Antioxidant activity of plant extracts containing phenolic compounds. J Agric Food Chem 1999; 47:3954-3962. doi:

27. Newerli-Guz J. Antioxidant properties of marjoram Origanum majorana L. Probl Hig Epidemiol 2012a; 93:834-837.

28. Newerli-Guz J. The antioxidant properties of spices - example black pepper Piper nigrum L. Bromatol Chem Toxicol 2012b; 45:887-891.

29. Wojdyło A, Oszmiański J, Czemerys R. Antioxidant activity and phenolic compounds in 32 selected herbs. Food Chem 2007; 105:940-949. doi:

30. Gülçin I, Sat IG, Beydemir S, Elmastas M, Kufrevioglu OI. Comparison of antioxidant activity of clove (Eugenia caryophylata Thunb.) buds and lavender (Lavandula stoechas L.). Food Chem 2004; 87:393-400. doi:

Herba Polonica

From Botanical to Medical Research

Journal Information


All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 0 0 0
Full Text Views 338 255 28
PDF Downloads 278 254 20