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Several culinary and medicinal herbs are important sources of dietary antioxidants.

Herbs are usually considered as plant with aromatic properties and are mainly used spice foods and for preparation of herbal teas. Herbs also contain many phytochemicals including antioxidants. The aim of this study was to determine the daily intake of antioxidants present in culinary and medicinal herbs. To determine the level of antioxidants in herbs use was made of the FRAP (Ferric Reducing Ability of Plasma) method. The results show that there are large differences in antioxidant levels: the herb with the highest level of antioxidants contains 1000 times more antioxidants than the herb with the lowest level. The herbs with the highest levels of antioxidants are oregano, sage, peppermint, lemon balm, clove, cinnamon, Cinnamomi cortex and Scutellariae radix.

The levels of antioxidants found in culinary herbs were influenced by crop year and season of harvesting. These are some levels of antioxidants in common culinary herbs grown and harvested in Norway, (expressed as mmol/100g):

Oregano138
Sage102
Peppermint79
Thyme75
Lemon Balm75
Marjoram56
Hyssop38
Tansy, leaves37
Purple Coneflower, flowers23
Roseroot, stem18
Chamomile18
Angelica, leaves and stem15
Roseroot, root and leaves6
Angelica, root5
Coriander3


These are antioxidants levels found in dried commercial herbs (expressed as mmol/100g):

Clove465
Allspice102
Cinnamon98
Rosemary67
Thyme64
Marjoram54
Bayberry leaves24
Ginger22
Nutmeg20
Mustard10
Cayenne6
Garlic2
Coriander2


The researchers also tested some medicinal herbs, mainly Chinese and Japanese herbs. These were the levels of antioxidants found (expressed as mmol/100g):

Cinnamomi Cortex120
Scutellariae Radix112
Cimicifugae Rhizoma64
Paeonaiae Radix55
Glycyrrhizae Radix12
Angelicae Radix3


The researchers concluded that the intake of herbs contribute significant to the overall daily intake of antioxidants. Intake of 1 g of culinary herbs may contain 1 mmol antioxidants. Culinary herbs are even a better source of antioxidants than other foods such as fruit, vegetables and cereals.


Source: Dragland S, Senoo H, Wake K, Holte K, Blomhoff R. Several culinary and medicinal herbs are important sources of dietary antioxidants.. Journal of Nutrition. 2003 May;133(5):1286-90



 
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