'Violet Nori' is a new spontaneous growing violet rice variety showing a peculiar violet color in its fresh leaves as well. In this paper, the antioxidant properties and the content of total phenols, radical scavengers, and anthocyanins in 'Violet Nori' caryopses, flour, and leaves are explored and compared. Ultrasonic-Assisted Extraction (UAE) is employed for the extraction of phenolic compounds, improving the extraction conditions by Design of Experiments (DoE). The obtained results show that the Radical Scavenging Activities (RSAs), the Total Phenolic Contents (TPCs), and the anthocyanin amounts (1000-1500 μg/g, expressed as cyanidin-3-glucoside) of 'Violet Nori' caryopses are higher than those in the other analyzed colored rice samples (300-900 μg/g as cyanidin-3-glucoside), with the exception of the cultivars 'Artemide' and 'Nerone', which show comparable values of RSAs and TPCs. The study of 'Violet Nori' leaves at different plant maturation stages shows that their anthocyanin content is 2-3 times higher than in the caryopses and in the flour, reaching the highest levels at about 60 days from seeding. Thus, the estimated extraction yield of 4 kg anthocyanins/t makes fresh leaves very interesting for the extraction of anthocyanins on an industrial scale, whereas violet caryopses are a very interesting dietetic source of valuable anthocyanins and other antioxidant compounds.
Keywords: Ultrasound-Assisted Extraction (UAE); anthocyanins; antioxidant activity; violet leaves; violet rice.