Nutritional composition and antioxidant capacity in edible flowers: characterisation of phenolic compounds by HPLC-DAD-ESI/MSn

Int J Mol Sci. 2014 Dec 31;16(1):805-22. doi: 10.3390/ijms16010805.


Edible flowers are commonly used in human nutrition and their consumption has increased in recent years. The aim of this study was to ascertain the nutritional composition and the content and profile of phenolic compounds of three edible flowers, monks cress (Tropaeolum majus), marigold (Tagetes erecta) and paracress (Spilanthes oleracea), and to determine the relationship between the presence of phenolic compounds and the antioxidant capacity. Proximate composition, total dietary fibre (TDF) and minerals were analysed according to official methods: total phenolic compounds (TPC) were determined with Folin-Ciocalteu's reagent, whereas antioxidant capacity was evaluated using Trolox Equivalent Antioxidant Capacity (TEAC) and Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) assays. In addition, phenolic compounds were characterised by HPLC-DAD-MSn. In relation to the nutritional value, the edible flowers had a composition similar to that of other plant foods, with a high water and TDF content, low protein content and very low proportion of total fat-showing significant differences among samples. The levels of TPC compounds and the antioxidant capacity were significantly higher in T. erecta, followed by S. oleracea and T. majus. Thirty-nine different phenolic compounds were tentatively identified, with flavonols being the major compounds detected in all samples, followed by anthocyanins and hydroxycynnamic acid derivatives. In T. erecta small proportions of gallotannin and ellagic acid were also identified.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anthocyanins / analysis
  • Antioxidants / chemistry*
  • Asteraceae / chemistry*
  • Asteraceae / metabolism
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid
  • Flavonoids / analysis
  • Flowers / chemistry
  • Flowers / metabolism
  • Phenols / analysis*
  • Spectrometry, Mass, Electrospray Ionization*
  • Tagetes / chemistry*
  • Tagetes / metabolism
  • Tropaeolum / chemistry*
  • Tropaeolum / metabolism


  • Anthocyanins
  • Antioxidants
  • Flavonoids
  • Phenols