The present paper reports a complete mass spectrometric characterization of both the phenolic and volatile fractions of a dried spearmint extract. Phenolic compounds were analysed by ultra-high performance liquid chromatography-electrospray ionization-mass spectrometry (UHPLC-ESI-MS(n)) and a total of 66 compounds were tentatively identified, being the widest phenolic characterisation of spearmint to date. The analysis suggests that the extract is composed of rosmarinic acid and its derivatives (230.5 ± 13.5 mg/g) with smaller amounts of salvianolic acids, caffeoylquinic acids, hydroxybenzoic acids, hydroxycinnamic acids, flavones, and flavanones. Head space solid-phase microextraction (HS-SPME) coupled with gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) technique, that was applied to characterize the volatile fraction of spearmint, identified molecules belonging to different chemical classes, such as p-cymene, isopiperitone, and piperitone, dihydroedulan II, menthone, p-cymen-8-ol, and β-linalool. This comprehensive phytochemical analysis can be useful to test the authenticity of this product rich in rosmarinic acid and other phenolics, and when assessing its biological properties. It may also be applied to other plant-derived food extracts and beverages containing a broad range of phytochemical compounds.
Keywords: HS-SPME/GC-MS; UHPLC-ESI-MSn; phenolic composition; phytochemical characterization; spearmint; volatile fraction.