CHICAGOTransitioning from table decorations to functional ingredients, flowers could soon become the next trend in the food and beverage industry. Due to some flowers' phenolics and antioxidant capacities, new research published in the Journal of Food Science indicates food and beverage formulators can use edible flowers as healthy, natural ingredients.
Lead researcher Lina Xiong and a team of scientists found that common edible flowers in China have the potential to be used as an additive in food to prevent chronic disease, help health promotion and prevent food oxidization. Many of these flowers are rich in phenolics, which have been correlated with anti-inflammatory activity, as well as a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and certain cancers. However, the antioxidant mechanisms, the anti-tumor, anti-inflammation and anti-aging activity of the edible flower extracts should be further studied to develop more applications as natural antioxidants.
Edible flowers, which have been used in the culinary arts in China for centuries, are receiving renewed interest as recipe ingredients and seasonings for certain types of dishes. Flowers were also used by ancient Greeks and Romans to enhance food flavorings, and today, floral ingredients are increasingly finding their way into commercial food products.