The consumption of pistachios has been linked to many potential health benefits. Phytochemicals in pistachios, including phenolics, vitamin E and carotenoids, have been considered to make contributions to the health benefits. The objectives of this study were (1) to explore the phytochemical profiles (total phenolics and total flavonoids, including both free and bound forms), selected phytochemicals, vitamin E and carotenoids of raw and roasted pistachios; (2) to determine total antioxidant activity and cellular antioxidant activity (CAA); and (3) to explore antiproliferative activities of pistachio extracts against human breast, liver and colon cancer cells in vitro. Both raw and roasted pistachios contained high total phenolics, at 479.9 ± 10.2 (raw) and 447.9 ± 9.4 (roasted) mg GAE/100 g, respectively, and high flavonoids, at 178.4 ± 10.6 (raw) and 144.1 ± 7.4 (roasted) mg GAE/100 g, respectively. The contributions of the free form to the total phenolics in pistachios were 82% (raw) and 84% (roasted), respectively, and the contributions of the free form to the total flavonoids in pistachios were 65% (raw) and 70% (roasted), respectively. Gentisic acid and catechin were the major phenolics in raw and roasted pistachios, respectively. Both raw and roasted pistachios had similar total antioxidant activity evaluated by Oxygen-Radical-Scavenging Capacity (ORAC) assay, at 7387.9 ± 467 (raw) and 7375.3 ± 602 (roasted) μmol TE/100 g, respectively. Both raw and roasted pistachio extracts exhibited cellular antioxidant activity inhibiting peroxyradical radical-induced oxidation, with CAA values of 77.39 ± 4.25 (wash) and 253.71 ± 19.18 (no wash) μmol QE/100 g of raw pistachios and 115.62 ± 3.02 (wash) and 216.76 ± 6.6 (no wash) μmol QE/100 g of roasted pistachios. Roasted pistachios contained more vitamin E when compared with raw pistachios, while raw pistachios contained more carotenoids than the roasted pistachios. Additionally, the free form of roasted pistachios extracts exhibited superior antiproliferation activity against HepG2, Caco-2 and MDA-MB-231 cancer cells in a dose-dependent manner, with EC50 34.73 ± 1.64, 36.66 ± 3.3 and 7.41 ± 0.82 mg per mL, respectively. These results provided new knowledge about the phytochemical profiles, antioxidant activity, cellular antioxidant activity and antiproliferative activity of raw and roasted pistachios.
Keywords: antioxidant; antiproliferative activity; phytochemicals; pistachios.