The study ‘Antioxidant Activity of Medicinal Plant Extracts in Cookies’ published in the Journal of Food Science said that formulating cookies with Vitalplant, a mixture of the ethanolic extracts of parsley fruit, buckthorn bark, mint leaves and caraway fruit could boost antioxidant activity in cookies between 2-6% and retard the process of lipid oxidation, a major cause of chemical spoilage of foods.
The research was led by Aleksandra Mišan at the Institute of Food Technologists and funded by the Serbian government.
“Vitalplant has a potential as an ingredient for functional food formulations,” said the study.
“Supplementation of cookies with medicinal plant extracts could have a positive effect on the oxidative stability of the cookies,” it said.
Antioxidant activity was measured by two direct erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) tests and four indirect spectrophotometric tests, results of which were correlated with total phenolic and flavonoid content.
The potential to retard the process of lipid oxidation was gauged by thiobarbituric acid (TBA) minus reactive substance assay (TBARS) and a DPPH test.
In all but one tests, mint extract showed the highest antioxidant capacity while the mixture Vitalplant exhibited improved oxidative stability and high antioxidant activity in most tests, which the researchers said was due to synergistic effects of its components.
The study said that further research was needed to confirm the functionality of Vitalplant formulated cookies and consumer studies may be required to judge the taste of these products.
The researchers said there had been increasing interest from the industry into the functional benefits of spices and aromatic herbs in food formulation because of their strong antioxidants.
They pointed to a study conducted in 2000 by Finkel and Holbrook that found foods rich in antioxidants help to prevent cardiovascular diseases, neurodegenerative diseases and cancers.
Some of the researchers in recent study flagged up the antioxidant benefits and shelf life extension properties of a sugar beet fibre derived ingredient, Fibrex, when added to cookies in research published early last year.
Source: Mišan, A., Mimica-Dukić, N., Sakač, M., Mandić, A., Sedej, I., Šimurina, O. and Tumbas, V. (2011), Antioxidant Activity of Medicinal Plant Extracts in Cookies. Journal of Food Science, 76: C1239–C1244. doi: 10.1111/j.1750-3841.2011.02400.x