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J Physiol Pharmacol. 2005 Mar;56 Suppl 1:115-24.

Antioxidant properties of Mediterranean food plant extracts: geographical differences.

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Institute of Pharmacology (ZAFES), Biocenter Niederursel, University of Frankfurt, Frankfurt am Main, Germany.


Locally grown, wild food plants seasonally contribute a considerable portion of the daily diet in certain Mediterranean areas and it has been suggested that the beneficial effects of the Mediterranean diet on human health partly originate from the antioxidant effect of flavonoid-rich food plants. The nutrient content of most wild plants is higher than that of cultivated ones and may vary depending on the prevailing environmental conditions. Accordingly, three local Mediterranean plant foods (i.e. Cichorium intybus, Sonchus oleraceus, Papaver rhoeas) were collected in Greece (Crete), southern Italy, and southern Spain in order to assess possible differences in their in vitro antioxidant potential. The biological assays revealed diverse intra-plant specific antioxidant effects for the tested extracts ranging from no activity to almost complete protection. Furthermore, substantial differences in the polyphenol content were found for the nutritionally used part of the same plant originating from different locations. However, no clear correlations between the polyphenol content and the extracts' antioxidant activities were found. Taken together, the data suggest that certain local Mediterranean plant foods possess promising antioxidant activity and that the observed biological effects are possibly influenced by the geographically-dependent environmental conditions prevailing during plant growth.

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