Increasing antioxidant activity and reducing decay of blueberries by essential oils

Wang CY, Wang SY, Chen C
Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 2008


Several naturally occurring essential oils including carvacrol, anethole, cinnamaldehyde, cinnamic acid, perillaldehyde, linalool, and p-cymene were evaluated for their effectiveness in reducing decay and increasing antioxidant levels and activities in ‘Duke’ blueberries ( Vaccinium corymbosum). Carvacrol, anethole, and perillaldehyde showed the capability to promote total anthocyanins and total phenolics and enhance antioxidant activity in fruit tissues expressed as oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC) and hydroxyl radical ( (*)OH) scavenging capacity. All of the essential oils tested in this study were able to inhibit fruit decay development to some degree compared to controls. The most effective compound for mold retardation was p-cymene, followed by linalool, carvacrol, anethole, and perillaldehyde. Cinnamic acid and cinnamaldehyde also suppressed mold growth, but to a lesser extent. Treatment with carvacrol, anethole, or perillaldehyde also significantly increased the levels of fructose, glucose, and citric acid. Individual flavonoids were variably affected by the essential oils. Levels of chlorogenic acid, which was the major phenolic compound in blueberry fruit, were enhanced by all of the essential oils in this study. Increased amounts of quercetin 3-galactoside and quercetin 3-arabinoside were also found in all treated fruit except samples treated with linalool or p-cymene. The major anthocyanin, malvidin 3-galactoside, was enhanced by all essential oils tested except linalool and p-cymene. The levels of other individual anthocyanins including petunidin 3-galactoside, delphinidin 3-galactoside, petunidin 3-glucoside, petunidin 3-arabinoside, delphinidin 3-arabinoside, and cyanidin 3-galactoside were higher in treated fruit compared to controls. Those essential oils that have positive effects on enhancing anthocyanins, phenolic compounds, and antioxidant activity of fruit, but inhibitory effects on microbial growth and decay development, deserve further evaluation.


Wang CY, Wang SY, Chen C. Increasing antioxidant activity and reducing decay of blueberries by essential oils. J Agric Food Chem. 2008;56(10):3587-3592.

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