Background: In this work three different techniques were applied to extract dry leaves of spinach (Spinacia oleracea): solid-liquid extraction (SLE), pressurised liquid extraction (PLE) and supercritical fluid extraction (SFE) to investigate the influence of extraction solvent and technique on extracts composition and antioxidant activity. Moreover, the influence of carotenoids and phenolic compounds on the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities of spinach extracts was also studied.
Results: The higher concentrations of carotenoids and the lower content of phenolic compounds were observed in the supercritical CO₂ extracts; whereas water and/or ethanol PLE extracts presented low amounts of carotenoids and the higher concentrations of phenolic compounds. PLE extract with the highest content of phenolic compounds showed the highest antioxidant activity, although SFE carotenoid rich extract also showed a high antioxidant activity. Moreover, both extracts presented an important anti-inflammatory activity.
Conclusion: PLE seems to be a good technique for the extraction of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds from spinach leaves. Moreover, spinach phenolic compounds and carotenoids present a high antioxidant activity, whereas spinach carotenoids seem to show a higher anti-inflammatory activity than phenolic compounds. It is worth noting that of our knowledge this is the first time the anti-inflammatory activity of lipophilic extracts from spinach leaves is reported.
Keywords: anti-inflammatory activity; antioxidant activity; carotenoids; extraction techniques; spinach leaves; total polyphenol content.
© 2014 Society of Chemical Industry.