Hawthorn belongs to the Crataegus genus of the Rosaceae family and is an important medicinal plant. Due to its beneficial effects on the cardiovascular system and its antioxidant and antimicrobial activity hawthorn has recently become quite a popular herbal medicine in phytotherapy and food applications. In this study, physicochemical characterization (color parameters, pH, titratable acidity, total soluble solids, soluble carbohydrate, total carotenoid, total phenols, and flavonoid contents), antioxidant activity (by ferric-reducing antioxidant power, FRAP assay), and quantification of some individual phenolic compounds of fruits of 15 samples of different hawthorn species (Crataegus spp.) collected from different regions of Iran were investigated. According to findings, the total phenols, total flavonoid content, and antioxidant activity were in the range of 21.19-69.12 mg gallic acid equivalent (GAE)/g dry weight (dw), 2.44-6.08 mg quercetin equivalent (QUE)/g dw and 0.32-1.84 mmol Fe++/g dw, respectively. Hyperoside (0.87-2.94 mg/g dw), chlorogenic acid (0.06-1.16 mg/g dw), and isoquercetin (0.24-1.59 mg/g dw) were found to be the most abundant phenolic compounds in the extracts of hawthorn fruits. The considerable variations in the antioxidant activity and phenolic compounds of hawthorn species were demonstrated by our results. Hence, the evaluation of hawthorn genetic resources could supply precious data for screening genotypes with high bioactive contents for producing natural antioxidants and other phytochemical compounds valuable for food and pharma industries.
Keywords: Crataegus spp.; bioactive compounds; flavonoids; phenolic compounds; physicochemical characteristics.