There is increasing concern for reduction of the ecological impacts of industrial waste caused by fruits and vegetables. To reduce costs of onion waste disposal while obtaining value-added products, onion skin can be used to extract quercetin, a natural flavonoid with antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer effects. The aim was to optimize quercetin extraction from brown onion (Allium cepa L.) skin through investigation of the effects of different parameters on quercetin yield. Operational parameters for conventional maceration extraction and for ultrasound-assisted extraction were compared: solvent type, mass-to-liquid ratio, extraction time and temperature. Antioxidant capacity was determined using DPPH· radical scavenging assays and quercetin yield using HPLC/DAD. Anti-α-amylase activity of onion skin extracts was investigated using α-amylase inhibition assays. Optimal extraction conditions of quercetin from onion skin were obtained with maceration extraction, 50% ethanol, 1:100 mass-to-liquid ratio, 25 °C, for 15 min. Under these conditions, the antioxidant capacity (expressed as quercetin equivalents) was 18.7 mg/g and the mass fraction of quercetin was 7.96 mg/g. The onion skin extracts showed a dose-dependent relationship between dry extract concentration and α-amylase inhibition, which confirms that this onion skin extract can be considered as an anti-diabetes agent.
Keywords: Allium cepa L.; anti-α-amylase activity; antioxidant capacity; extraction optimization; quercetin.