In this study, the antioxidant properties of Mediterranean food spices (annatto, cumin, oregano, sweet and hot paprika, rosemary, and saffron) at 5% concentration and of common food additives (butylated hydroxyanisole [BHA], butylated hydroxytoluene[BHT], and propyl gallate) at 100 μg/g are compared. The ability of these compounds to inhibit lipid peroxidation was, in decreasing order, rosemary > oregano > propyl gallate > annatto > BHA > sweet paprika > cumin > hot paprika > saffron > BHT. Deoxyribose damage is partially inhibited in the presence of cumin extract that exhibits the strongest protective action. The rest of the spices also protect deoxyribose better than the BHA and BHT used in the assay. Finally, the results obtained in the assay point to the prooxidant effect of propyl gallate. Hydrogen peroxide scavenging activity is measured by using peroxidase-based assay systems. In aqueous medium, the spice extracts show lower antioxidant activity than propyl gallate, the decreasing order being cumin > oregano > annatto > rosemary > hot paprika > sweet paprika. BHA and BHT did not scavenge H2O2. Spices are able to scavenge HOCl and protect α1-antiproteinase. The results indicate that rosemary and oregano are more effective HOCl scavengers than the other substances analyzed, which, in decreasing order, were propyl gallate, annatto, sweet and hot paprika, saffron, and cumin. The effect of Mediterranean food spices on the oxidative stability of refined olive oil tested by the Rancimat method was compared with common food additives during storage (72 h, 2, 4, and 6 months) at room temperature. The results showed that the spice extracts analyzed have significant stabilizing effects (P < 0.05).

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