Eggplant Found to Have an Antioxidant
Kick By Rosalie
January 8, 2004
Eggplant contains high levels of an antioxidant compound that
may protect the body's cells against oxidative damage, according to studies by
two Agricultural Research Service
scientists. They found that chlorogenic acid, one of the most powerful
antioxidants produced in plant tissues, was the predominant phenolic compound
in nearly all the samples analyzed.
Phenolic acids are a simple class of antioxidant phenylpropanoid
compounds. Plants produce many different phenylpropanoids to protect themselves
against stress and infection.
Geneticist John R. Stommel of the ARS
Vegetable Laboratory and plant
physiologist Bruce D. Whitaker of the ARS
Produce Quality and Safety
Laboratory conducted the research. Both labs are part of the ARS
Henry A. Wallace Beltsville (Md.)
Agricultural Research Center. The scientists studied seven eggplant
cultivars grown commercially in the United States, and a diverse collection of
exotic and wild eggplant from other countries.
In addition to chlorogenic acid, the researchers found 13 other
phenolic acids present at varying levels in the commercial cultivars. They also
identified several phenolic compounds in two of the wild eggplant relatives
that had never before been isolated from plants.
Extracting the compounds alone was challenging, as the fruit's
flesh oxidizes quickly when it is cut and exposed to air. After extraction, the
scientists used three analytical methods to separate, quantify and identify the
The scientists are seeking to identify valuable traits worth
introducing into popular commercial cultivars for health purposes. The work
helps establish new breeding lines, which the commercial seed industry uses to
develop finished varieties that benefit consumers.
Read more about
this research in this month's issue of Agricultural Research
ARS is the U.S. Department of
Agriculture's chief scientific research agency.