Polyphenolic compounds such as eriocitrin, luteolin-7-O-rutinoside, diosmin, hesperidin, narirutin, isorhoifolin, rosmarinic and caffeic acids were identified in an aqueous extract (Ex) obtained from peppermint leaves (Menthae × piperitae folium). The content of polyphenols in Ex was as follows: eriocitrin 38%, luteolin-7-O-rutinoside 3.5%, hesperidin 2.9%, diosmin 0.8%, isorhoifolin 0.6%, narirutin 0.3%, rosmarinic acid 3.7% and caffeic acid 0.05%. The strongest antiradical activity (determined as DPPH• scavenging features) was observed for luteolin-7-O-rutinoside, eriocitrin and rosmarinic acid. Caffeic acid and hesperidin revealed a lower antiradical activity while isorhoifolin, narirutin and diosmin showed the lowest activity. The strongest anti-H2O2 activity was observed for eriocitrin, a little lower for rosmarinic acid. The rate of hydrogen peroxide scavenging activity displayed by luteolin-7-O-rutinoside and caffeic acid was lower than that of rosmarinic acids. Hesperidin appeared to be a very weak scavenger of hydrogen peroxide. Almost no anti-H2O2 activity was demonstrated for diosmin, narirutin and isorhoifolin. Among examined flavonoids, the strongest antiradical and anti-H2O2 activity was shown for compounds with two hydroxy groups bound to the Bring in ortho position in relation to each other. Replacement of one hydroxy group in the Bring with a methoxy group or removing one hydroxy group leads to decrease of antiradical and anti-H2O2 activity of flavonoids. Our results suggest that eriocitrin is a powerful peppermint antioxidant and a free radical scavenger.
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