The objective of this study was to determine the antioxidant activity of fractions separated from oregano essential oil by short-path molecular distillation. Two residue (R1 and R2) and two distillate (D1 and D2) fractions were prepared by molecular distillation. The major components were: carvacrol, terpinen-4-ol and γ-terpinene in R1 and R2; and γ-terpinene, α-terpineol and sabinene in D1 and D2. Free-radical scavenging activity was observed in all fractions and was highest in R2 (77.2%). D1 and D2 showed a smaller amount of volatile oxidation compounds produced from sunflower oil stored at 60°C for 14days. The greatest antioxidant activity was observed in D1 and D2. The thermal stability of oregano essential oil and its fractions was also analysed. R1 and R2 presented an increased carvacrol concentration and thermal stability. The short-path molecular distillation fractions can be used to prepare fractions from oregano essential oil with a higher antioxidant activity.
Keywords: Antioxidants; Distillation; Essential oils; Oregano.
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