The use of natural antioxidants in the preservation of food is preferred over synthetic compounds. Spices show potential health benefits as they possess antioxidant activity. This study was designed to screen the antioxidant properties of Aframomum sceptrum, Xylopia aethiopica, Monodora myristica and Allium sativum using four different extractive solvents (water, ethanol, methanol and heated water). Phenolic content, total antioxidant capacity, reducing power and ascorbate oxidase activity were assayed. Methanolic extract of these spices showed relatively higher amounts of total phenolics than the other extracts. Total antioxidant capacity of the heated water extract of all the spices investigated was significantly higher than the levels obtained for all other extracts. The results further revealed that the reducing powers of spices were directly proportional to concentrations and their ascorbate oxidase activities were comparable. Local spices therefore possess antioxidant properties that can be used by food and pharmaceutical industries as potential sources of natural antioxidants.
Key words: Aframomum sceptrum, Allium sativum, antioxidant capacity, Monodora myristica, phenolic content, Xylopia aethiopica.
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