Phenolic compounds in spices were reportedly found to possess high antioxidant capacities (AOCs), which may prevent or reduce risk of human diseases such as cardiovascular disease, cancer and diabetes. The potential AOC of Chinese five-spice powder (consist of Szechuan pepper, fennel seed, cinnamon, star anise and clove) with varying proportion of individual spice ingredients was investigated through four standard methods. Our results suggest that clove is the major contributor to the AOC of the five-spice powder whereas the other four ingredients contribute to the flavour. For example, the total phenolic content as well as ferric reducing antioxidant power (FRAP), Trolox equivalent antioxidant capacity (TEAC) and oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC) values increased linearly with the clove percentage in five-spice powder. This observation opens the door to use clove in other spice mixtures to increase their AOC and flavour. Moreover, linear relationships were also observed between AOC and the total phenolic content of the 32 tested spice samples.
Keywords: Antioxidant; Chinese five-spice powder; FRAP; ORAC; TEAC; total phenolic content.