Oregano: properties, composition and biological activity.
Arcila-Lozano CC1, Loarca-Piña G, Lecona-Uribe S, González de Mejía E.
1PROPAC, Facultad de Química, Universidad Autónoma de Querétaro.
The oregano spice includes various plant species. The most common are the genus Origanum, native of Europe, and the Lippia, native of Mexico. Among the species of Origanum. their most important components are the limonene, gamma-cariofilene, rho-cymenene, canfor, linalol, alpha-pinene, carvacrol and thymol. In the genus Lippia, the same compounds can be found. The oregano composition depends on the species, climate, altitude, time of recollection and the stage of growth. Some of the properties of this plant’s extracts are being currently studied due to the growing interest for substituting synthetic additives commonly found in foods.
Oregano has a good antioxidant capacity and also presents antimicrobial activity against pathogenic microorganisms like Salmonella typhimurium, Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus, Staphylococcus epidermis, among others. These are all characteristics of interest for the food industry because they may enhance the safety and stability of foods. There are also some reports regarding the antimutagenic and anticarcinogenic effect of oregano; representing an alternative for the potential treatment and/or prevention of certain chronic ailments, like cancer.
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