Plant species as food antioxidants
Lipid oxidation is the main deterioration reaction during the processing of food, as well as its storage. Both circumstances limit the life of most foods, causing smell and taste to rancidity in them, a process known as oxidative rancidity. In addition, lipid oxidation can damage biological membranes, enzymes and proteins, resulting in the appearance of potentially toxic secondary compounds. To control these oxidative processes, addition of antioxidants is a common strategy against oxidative reactions in the processing or storage of food. The antioxidants commonly used have begun to worry in today's society about the harmful effects they may have on human health.
Recently, an industry of natural antioxidants derived from plant species that can replace synthetic antioxidants is emerging. The enrichment of processed foods with vegetable extracts not only solves the problem of oxidation of the food but can also result in an improvement of consumer health. These natural compounds are mainly polyphenols (phenolic acids, flavonoids, anthocyanins, lignins), carotenoids (xanthophylls and carotenes), tocopherols, tocotrienols and some amino acids and peptides. They are widely distributed in species of cereals, aromatics, fruit trees, horticultural crops and oilseeds.
Natural antioxidants present in aromatic plant species such as rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis L.) and sage (Salvia officinalis L.) are already being marketed as natural and safe food preservatives, being applied in foods rich in fats such as vegetable oils.