Since oxidation is a major factor in spoilage of food products, food industry use synthetic antioxidants like butylhydroxyanisole (BHA) and butyl hydroxytoluene (BHT). But as consumers become more wary of artificial ingredients in the food and beverage, there is a growing demand for natural alternatives to synthetic preservatives. A report by Frost Sullivan says that the market for synthetic antioxidants steadily declined, while natural antioxidants market continues to grow.
Traditional foods and herbs from India have powerful antioxidant properties and can serve as an alternative to synthetic preservatives, according to research conducted by scientists from the Indian Institute of Technology Guwahati and published in the journal Food Research International.
Plants produce significant amount of antioxidants which prevent oxidative stress caused by light and oxygen, they represent a potential source of new compounds with antioxidant activity.
Researchers studied 24 different substances in various Indian plants, they discovered a number of substances with antioxidant activity. These antioxidant agents include alkaloids, ascorbic acid, flavonoids, phenols and tannins. The antioxidant properties of these compounds were confirmed by laboratory tests, but the researchers note that further studies are needed to understand exactly how they act on the human body.
Herbs included in the studies were Amaranthus paniculatus (Amaranth), Aerva lanata (Polpala), Coccinia and Coriandrum sativum (Coriander). Researchers say that the long history of use of these plants in Indian kitchen is a good sign for their safety.