Antioxidant capacity and vasodilatory properties of Mediterranean food: the case of Cannonau wine, myrtle berries liqueur and strawberry-tree honey

Food Chem. 2013 Oct 15;140(4):686-91. doi: 10.1016/j.foodchem.2012.09.071. Epub 2012 Sep 28.


The aim of this work was to use different assays to evaluate the antioxidant and vasodilatory properties of three typical food products from the Mediterranean area and to correlate these activities with their phenolic content. For this purpose, red wines Cannonau, liqueurs obtained by cold maceration of myrtle (Myrtus communis L.) berries and bitter honeys obtained from strawberry-tree flowers (Arbutus unedo L.) were analysed. The total phenolic (TP) content was measured spectrophotometrically with a modified Folin-Ciocalteau method and phenolic compounds were identified and dosed by HPLC-DAD and LC-MS/MS. Antioxidant activities were evaluated with DPPH, FRAP and ABTS assays and the in vitro vasodilatory effects were assessed using norepinephrine precontracted rat aortic rings. Cannonau wines and myrtle liqueurs showed high levels of TP (1978±279 and 1741±150mg GAE/L, respectively), linearly correlated to the results of FRAP, ABTS, and DPPH assays. Their maximal vasodilatory activity was 61.7±4.1% and 53.0±3.0%, respectively. Although strawberry-tree honey contained relatively high levels of phenolic compounds (922±38mg GAE/kg), it did not induce vasodilation, even at the highest dose tested (0.206g/L). These results indicate that foods with high levels of phenolic compounds should be studied using several different biological assays before being recommended to the general public as functional foods.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antioxidants / analysis*
  • Antioxidants / pharmacology
  • Aorta, Thoracic / drug effects
  • Aorta, Thoracic / physiology
  • Diet, Mediterranean
  • Fragaria / chemistry*
  • Fruit / chemistry
  • Honey / analysis*
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Male
  • Myrtus / chemistry*
  • Plant Extracts / analysis*
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Vasodilation / drug effects
  • Vasodilator Agents / analysis*
  • Vasodilator Agents / pharmacology
  • Wine / analysis*


  • Antioxidants
  • Plant Extracts
  • Vasodilator Agents