Determination of the Antioxidant Capacity of Culinary Herbs Subjected to Various Cooking and Storage Processes Using the ABTS*+ Radical Cation Assay

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Abstract

Culinary herbs have the potential to be a significant source of antioxidants in the diet. However, many culinary herbs are cooked or undergo some other form of processing before they are consumed as part of a meal and such factors may affect their significance as a source of dietary antioxidants. Thus, the impact of cooking (simmering, microwaving, stewing, stir frying and grilling) and storage (vinegar maceration, cold maceration and freezing) on the antioxidant capacity of common culinary herbs was investigated. Extracts of cinnamon, cloves, fennel, ginger, lavender, parsley, rose, rosemary, sage and thyme were prepared pre and post cooking or storage and their antioxidant capacities determined using the Trolox equivalent antioxidant capacity assay (TEAC). Simmering, soup making and stewing significantly increased antioxidant capacity, whilst grilling and stir frying decreased it. Both freezing herbs at −20 °C and cold maceration had preservative effects on antioxidant capacity. Herbs in cold vinegar macerations for 1 week showed a decrease in antioxidant capacity compared to the control extracts. These results indicate that the potential of culinary herbs to be significant contributors to dietary antioxidant intake is significantly affected by both cooking and storage.

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