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J Agric Food Chem. 2008 Feb 13;56(3):954-63. doi: 10.1021/jf072904a. Epub 2008 Jan 17.

Effect of species variation and processing on phenolic composition and in vitro antioxidant activity of aqueous extracts of Cyclopia spp. (Honeybush Tea).

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ARC Infruitec-Nietvoorbij, Private Bag X5026, Stellenbosch, 7599, South Africa.


The in vitro antioxidant activity of aqueous extracts prepared from four Cyclopia spp. (unfermented and fermented) was assessed using radical (ABTS *+) scavenging, ferric ion reduction, and inhibition of Fe2+-induced microsomal lipid peroxidation as criteria. Aqueous extracts of unfermented and fermented Aspalathus linearis (rooibos) and Camellia sinensis teas (green, oolong, and black) were included as reference samples. Qualitative and quantitative differences in phenolic composition were demonstrated for the Cyclopia spp. The xanthone glycoside, a.k.a. mangiferin, was the major monomeric polyphenol present in the Cyclopia extracts, with both unfermented and fermented C. genistoides extracts containing the highest quantities. Fermentation resulted in a significant reduction in extract yields and their total polyphenolic and individual polyphenol contents. Unfermented plant material should preferentially be used for preparation of extracts, as fermentation significantly ( P < 0.05) lowered antioxidant activity of all species, except in the case of C. genistoides, where the ability to inhibit lipid peroxidation was not affected. Unfermented plant material also retained the highest concentration of mangiferin. Overall, extracts of unfermented Cyclopia were either of similar or lower antioxidant activity as compared to the other teas. However, the presence of high levels of mangiferin merits the use of Cyclopia spp. and, in particular, C. genistoides, as an alternative herbal tea and potential dietary supplement.

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