Saponins: properties, applications and processing

Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2007;47(3):231-58. doi: 10.1080/10408390600698197.


Saponins are a diverse group of compounds widely distributed in the plant kingdom, which are characterized by their structure containing a triterpene or steroid aglycone and one or more sugar chains. Consumer demand for natural products coupled with their physicochemical (surfactant) properties and mounting evidence on their biological activity (such as anticancer and anticholesterol activity) has led to the emergence of saponins as commercially significant compounds with expanding applications in food, cosmetics, and pharmaceutical sectors. The realization of their full commercial potential requires development of new processes/processing strategies to address the processing challenges posed by their complex nature. This review provides an update on the sources, properties, and applications of saponins with special focus on their extraction and purification. Also reviewed is the recent literature on the effect of processing on saponin structure/properties and the extraction and purification of sapogenins.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Chemical Phenomena
  • Chemistry, Physical
  • Food
  • Food Handling / methods
  • Health Promotion
  • Molecular Structure
  • Plants / chemistry
  • Sapogenins / isolation & purification
  • Saponins* / chemistry
  • Saponins* / isolation & purification
  • Saponins* / pharmacology


  • Sapogenins
  • Saponins