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Abstract and Figures

Edible flowers are becoming more and more popular food ingredients in European cuisine. The flowers are used as the garnish, seasoning or a basic component of dish. Some of them are present in European cuisine for ages like lavender or roses. Moreover, many of these flowers have cosmetic or phytotherapeutical use with long tradition in Europe, Asia and North America. Essential oils from flowers are used for ages in perfumery and aromatherapy. Lavender, cornflower, orange blossom, jasminum and rosal hydrolates are used in cosmetics due to their soothing and calming effects [1, 2]. Pot marigolds, daisies and chamo-mile are used for their anti-inflammatory properties. Red clover is known for its estrogenic action. All those flowers used in traditional medicine, cosmetics and phytotherapy became, in last decade, very common as new diet ingredients. As dietary species richness and biodiversity correlate with nutritional value of food [3, 4], new diet components are very welcome but the flowers arouse interest in their possible health benefits and usage in che-moprevention as there is an increasing demand for natural food antioxidants [5-8]. Flowers are the reproductive structures of an-giosperm plants. Petals forming corolla do not take part in the reproduction process directly but they are responsible for attracting pollinating animals or mostly insects. Flower petals are usually rich in colorants and fragrances. Yellow and orange blossoms like dandelions, pot marigold, French marigolds are rich in carotenoids, in particular carotens (a-, b-, g-, d-, e-and z-carotene) and xanthophylls (lutein, zeaxanthin, neoxanthin, viola xanthin, flavoxanthin, a-and b-cryptoxan-thin). Red, white, purple or blue petals are rich in different types of anthocyanins. Most frequently occur the glycosides of cyanidin, delphinidin, mal-vidin, pelargonidin, peonidin and petunidin. Both carotenoids and anthocyanins are strong antioxi-Antioxidant and genoprotective properties of extracts from edible flowers Małgorzata KaleMba-DrożDż-agnieszKa CierniaK summary Enrichment of diet with edible flowers as sources of antioxidants may have beneficial effect on human health. The goal of the study was to check whether the popular edible flowers can provide protection against oxidative DNA damage, which is the main risk factor of aging and initiation of carcinogenesis. The analysis included hydrolates, 40% tinctures and essential oils from edible DNA damage level were analysed. Oxidative DNA damage was induced by hydrogen peroxide. Most of the flowers acted as chemopreventive agents. Roses, French marigold, lavender, heather, elderflower, horned pansy and cornflower can be particularly useful in protecting human DNA against oxidative damage. The best antioxidant and genoprotective properties were observed in Rosa genus.
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Journal of Food and Nutrition Research (ISSN 1336-8672) Vol. 58, 2019, No. 1, pp. 42–50
42 © 2018 National Agricultural and Food Centre (Slovakia)
Edible flowers are becoming more and more
popular food ingredients in European cuisine. The
flowers are used as the garnish, seasoning or a ba-
sic component of dish. Some of them are present
in European cuisine for ages like lavender or
roses. Moreover, many of these flowers have cos-
metic or phytotherapeutical use with long tradi-
tion in Europe, Asia and North America. Essential
oils from flowers are used for ages in perfumery
and aromatherapy. Lavender, cornflower, orange
blossom, jasminum and rosal hydrolates are used
in cosmetics due to their soothing and calming
effects [1, 2]. Pot marigolds, daisies and chamo-
mile are used for their anti-inflammatory proper-
ties. Red clover is known for its estrogenic action.
All those flowers used in traditional medicine, cos-
metics and phytotherapy became, in last decade,
very common as new diet ingredients. As dietary
species richness and biodiversity correlate with nu-
tritional value of food [3, 4], new diet components
are very welcome but the flowers arouse interest
in their possible health benefits and usage in che-
moprevention as there is an increasing demand for
natural food antioxidants [5–8].
Flowers are the reproductive structures of an-
giosperm plants. Petals forming corolla do not
take part in the reproduction process directly but
they are responsible for attracting pollinating ani-
mals or mostly insects. Flower petals are usually
rich in colorants and fragrances. Yellow and
orange blossoms like dandelions, pot marigold,
French marigolds are rich in carotenoids, in par-
ticular carotens (a-, b-, g-, d-, e- and z-carotene)
and xanthophylls (lutein, zeaxanthin, neoxanthin,
viola xanthin, flavoxanthin, a- and b-cryptoxan-
thin). Red, white, purple or blue petals are rich in
different types of anthocyanins. Most frequently
occur the glycosides of cyanidin, delphinidin, mal-
vidin, pelargonidin, peonidin and petunidin. Both
carotenoids and anthocyanins are strong antioxi-
Antioxidant and genoprotective properties
of extracts from edible flowers


Enrichment of diet with edible flowers as sources of antioxidants may have beneficial effect on human health. The goal
of the study was to check whether the popular edible flowers can provide protection against oxidative DNA damage,
which is the main risk factor of aging and initiation of carcinogenesis. The analysis included hydrolates, 40% tinctures
and essential oils from edible flowers Alcea rosea, Bellis perenis, Calendula officinalis, Calluna vulgaris, Centaurea cya-
nus, Citrus aurantium, Heliantus annuus, Hibiscus sabdarifa, Jasminum grandiflorum, Lavandula augustifolia, Matricaria
chamomilla, Primula vulgaris, Rosa centifolia, Rosa damascena, Rosa rugosa, Sambucus nigra, Tagetes patula, Trifolium
pratense and Viola cornuta. Antioxidant power, polyphenol content, cytotoxicity and DNA damage level were analysed.
Oxidative DNA damage was induced by hydrogen peroxide. Most of the flowers acted as chemopreventive agents.
Roses, French marigold, lavender, heather, elderflower, horned pansy and cornflower can be particularly useful in
protecting human DNA against oxidative damage. The best antioxidant and genoprotective properties were observed
in Rosa genus.

edible flowers; Rosa; antioxidant; reduction power; DNA damage; comet assay, chemoprevention
, Department of Biochemistry, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences,
Andrzej Frycz Modrzewski Krakow University, Gustawa Herlinga-Grudzińskiego 1, 30-705 Kraków, Poland.
Correspondence author:
Małgorzata Kalemba-Drożdż, tel.: +48 12 2524506, fax: +48 12 2524502, e-mail: mkalemba-drozdz@afm.edu.pl
Antioxidant and genoprotective properties of extracts from edible flowers
43
(Ecospa). The other flower petals, namely, black
flowers of hollyhock (Alcea rosea), daisy (Bellis
perenis), pot marigold (Calendula officinalis),
heather (Calluna vulgaris), cornflower, sunflower
(Heliantus annuus), sorrel (Hibiscus sabdarifa),
lavender, chamomile, primrose (Primula vulgaris),
cabage rose, beach rose (Rosa rugosa), elder flower
(Sambucus nigra), French marigold (Tagetes patu-
la), red clover (Trifolium pratense) and blue flowers
of horned pansy (Viola cornuta) were gathered in
Lesser Poland Voivodship (Małopolska) in subur-
ban regions and air dried.
All additional chemicals were obtained from
Sigma-Aldrich (Saint Louis, Missouri, USA).

The ferric reducing antioxidant power (FRAP)
as the ability to reduce Fe3+ ions to Fe2+ was de-
termined according to Benzie and Strain [18]
with minor modifications. Briefly, the calibration
curve was plotted using standard FeSO4 solution.
FeSO4 solutions (0–1 mmol·l-1) were mixed with
FRAP 1 solution (300 mmol·l-1 acetate buffer,
10 mmol·l-1 2,4,6-tripyridyl-s-triazine, TPTZ) and
incubated for 20 min at room temperature in
the dark. FRAP 2 solution (300 mmol·l-1 acetate
buffer, 10 mmol·l-1 TPTZ, 20 mmol·l-1 FeCl3) was
added to the 1% extracts. Afterward, the mixture
was allowed to stand for 20 min and absorbance
was measured at 593 nm using Spectra Fluor Plus
instrument (Tecan, Männedorf, Switzerland) us-
ing Magellan software (Tecan). The ascorbic acid
water solution in concentration 1 mg·ml-1 was used
as an antioxidant standard and the results were
expressed as the percentage of ascorbic acid anti-
oxidant power. The samples were analysed in trip-
licate.

Total phenolic group content in flower extracts
was measured by the standard Folin-Ciocalteu
method according to Singleton and roSSi [19].
Briefly, 100 µl of aliquots of standard quercetin
solutions (0–0.5 mmol·l-1) and/or tested extracts
(1%) were placed into the test tubes and mixed
with 750 µl of Folin Ciocalteu’s reagent. Af-
ter 5 min, 750 µl sodium carbonate (60 g·l-1) was
added. The incubation was performed for 90 min
at room temperature in the dark. Intense blue
colour was developed. After incubation, absorb-
ance was measured at 750 nm in spectrophoto-
meter Rayleigh UV1800 (Rayleigh Instruments,
Chelmsford, United Kingdom). The samples were
measured in triplicates. The blank sample was
measured using reagents with solvent. The calibra-
tion curve was plotted using standard quercetin
dants [9]. These compounds are known for their
anti-inflammatory, anticancer and antiprolifera-
tive properties and, moreover, polyphenols partici-
pate in activation of phase II xenobiotics metabo-
lizing enzymes [10]. These compounds also inhibit
cancer cell proliferation and transformation, tu-
mour invasion and angiogenesis [11, 12] as well
as exhibit protective properties against vascular
disease [13] and are useful agents against obesity
[14, 15].
Essential oils are hydrophobic aromatic com-
pounds from plants. Chemically, they are mixtures
of monoterpenes, terpene esters, monoterpenols,
sesquiterpenes, terpenoid oxides and others com-
pounds like ketons and phenethyl alcohol. Essen-
tial oils are produced by distillation, expression
or solvent extraction. The hydrolates (hydrosols)
are side products of essential oils distillation. The
active compounds of essential oils like geraniol,
citrenollol, nerol or phenethyl alcohol are known
for their antibacterial [16], antiviral and therapeu-
tic or preventive effects on different types of can-
cer, including breast, lung, colon, prostate, pancre-
atic and hepatic cancer [17].
The aim of the study was to analyse whether
edible flowers may give a hint of protection against
oxidative stress and DNA damage, which are im-
portant factors of aging and initiation of carcino-
genesis. As different types of extracts differ due to
the contents of active phytochemicals, we analysed
hydrolates, alcohol extracts and essential oils from
edible flowers popular in European cuisine.


Hydrolates from corn flower (Centaurea cya-
nus), bitter orange blossom (Citrus aurantium),
jasminum (Jasminum grandiflorum), lavender
(Lavandula augustifolia), chamomile (Matricaria
chamomilla), cabbage rose (Rosa centifolia) and
damask rose (Rosa damascena) were obtained
from Zrób Sobie Krem (Prochowice, Poland) and
Ecospa (Warszawa, Poland).
Esential oils from bitter orange blossom (Cit-
rus aurantium, Neroli oil), jasminum, lavender,
cabbage rose and damask rose were obtained from
Zrób Sobie Krem and Ecospa. The essentials oil
were dilluted in ethanol to 1% and 0.1% concen-
trations.
Tinctures, i.e. 1% alcohol extracts, were pre-
pared by maceration of 1 g of dried flower petals
in 100 ml of 40% ethanol for 14 days. Damask
rose dried petals were obtained from Bulgaria
(Ecospa), jasminum dried petals from Marocco
Kalemba-Drożdż, M. – Cierniak, A. J. Food Nutr. Res., Vol. 58, 2019, pp. 42–50
44
solutions. The data of total polyphenol contents of
extracts were expressed as milligrams of quercetin
equivalent per millilitre of sample.

Human peripheral blood from healthy volun-
teers was obtained from Regional Center of Blood
Donation and Treatment in Krakow, Poland. Pe-
ripheral blood lymphocytes were isolated using
the gradient centrifugation method on Histopaque
1077 (Sigma-Aldrich) according to the manufac-
turer’s instructions and were frozen at –80 °C in
50% fetal bovine serum (FBS), 40% Roswell Park
Memorial Institute 1640 medium (RPMI) and
10% dimethylsulfoxide (DMSO). Before each ex-
periment, lymphocytes were thawed in RPMI me-
dium with 50% FBS and centrifuged at 135 ×g, at
4 °C, for 5 min. Subsequently, cells were seeded
into 96-well plates at a density of 1×104 cells per
well in RPMI with 10% FBS and incubated in
37 °C, 5% CO2 for 30 min. Next, cells were incu-
bated for 1 h in 100-fold diluted (in cell-culture
medium) flower tinctures or hydrolates, and 1000-
fold diluted essential oils for 1 h and for 24 h at
37 °C in 5% CO2.

The cytotoxicity of extracts was evaluated using
the fluorescein diacetate (FDA) and ethidium
bromide (EtBr) differential staining. Cells were
seeded at a density of 2×104 cells per well in 96-
well plates for 1 h and 24 h, and 1% extracts were
added to the respective wells. Staining probes was
prepared by mixing 5 mg·ml-1 FDA in acetone,
200 µg·ml-1 EtBr in phosphate-buffered saline
(PBS) and PBS without Ca2+ and Mg2+. Sam-
ples were mixed with FDA/EtBr and placed on
microscope slides. The green labelled cells are
con sidered as metabolically active and the red
labelled cells are taken as dead. At least 100 ran-
domly selected cells are analysed per slide, using
fluorescence microscope IX50 (Olympus, Tokio,
Japan) and the procedure was repeated in three
independent experiments.

The single cell gel electrophoresis (comet
assay) procedure was performed to examine the
amount of endogenous oxidative DNA damages
and single-stranded breaks in lymphocytes
according to KapiSzewSKa et al. [20]. Pattern of
DNA migration through the electrophoresis gel in
fluorescence microscope resembles a comet with
a head formed by undamaged DNA and a tail of
migrating fragments of damaged DNA. The fluo-
rescence intensity of the comet tail depends on
the amount of DNA damages in nucleus. Lym-
phocytes were placed in a 96-well plate at a den-
sity of 2×104 cells per well and were treated with
1% flower extracts solution for 1 h. Oxidative
DNA damage was induced by cell incubation in
25 mmol·l-1 hydrogen peroxide for 5 min. After
incubation, cells were centrifuged (135 ×g, 5 min,
4 °C) and suspended in PBS. Samples were placed
in a water bath (37 °C) and mixed with low melt-
ing point agarose (LMPA) solution. Suspension
from each sample was placed on normal melting
point agarose (NMPA) coated slides, covered with
cover slips and immediately transferred on ice.
After the coverslips removal, slides were placed in
lysing buffer (2.5 mol·l-1 NaCl, 100 mmol·l-1 ethyl-
ene diamine tetra acetic acid (EDTA), 10 mmol·l-1
tris (hy droxy methyl)amino methane (Tris), 10%
DMSO and 1% polyethylene glycol p-(1,1,3,3-
tetramethylbutyl)-phenyl ether (Triton X100);
pH 10) at 4 °C for 1 h. Then, the slides were
washed 3 times in 0.4 mol·l-1 Tris-HCl (pH 7.4)
and placed in electrophoresis tank filled with fresh
cold electrophoresis buffer (300 mmol·l-1 NaOH,
1 mmol·l-1 EDTA). The slides were kept in the
alkaline buffer for 40 min to allow DNA strands
relaxation. Subsequently, electrophoresis was con-
ducted for 30 min (0.74 V·cm-1, 300 mA) and then
the slides were washed with 0.4 mol·l-1 Tris-HCl
(pH 7.4).
The results from two independent experi-
ments were expressed as tail DNA content (TDC,
percentage of DNA fluorescence in the tail of
total fluorescence of DNA in the comet) after
pro pidium iodide staining in fluorescence mi-
croscope IX50 equipped with an excitation filter
of 515–560 nm with a barrier filter of 590 nm at
magnification of 200×. The images were analysed
by Comet Plus 6 software (Theta Electronics,
Gröbenzell, Germany) and TDC was automati-
cally calculated for random 100 comets from each
sample.

Basic statistical analysis was performed using
Statistica 9.0 (StatSoft, Palo Alto, California,
USA). For parameters comparison, ANOVA test
was used under the condition of positive homo-
genity of variance in Levene’s test. The posteriori
Tukey’s test was performed. A p value of 0.05 was
considered the cut-off for significance. The corre-
lation analysis was performed with linear regres-
sion and the force of correlation was established
by Pearson’s correlation factors.
Antioxidant and genoprotective properties of extracts from edible flowers
45


The results obtained by FRAP method re-
vealed that hydrolates had the lowest antioxi-
dant power among the analysed extracts (Fig. 1).
Among the hydrolates, the strongest antioxidant
abilities had the damask rose hydrolate. The
essential oils from cabbage rose and damask rose
revealed the strongest antioxidant abilities among
all extracts. However, not all essential oils acted
as antioxidants, as jasmine and lavender oils were
found to be very weak antioxidants. Also, the tinc-
ture from jasmine flowers did not exhibit antioxi-
dant activity. Tinctures of black hollyhock, hibis-
cus, chamomile, sunflower, primrose and daisy had
rather weak abilities, equivalent to less than 50 %
of 1 mg·ml-1 ascorbic acid solution. Tinctures from
cornflower, lavender, blue horned pansy, heather,
elderflower, French marigold, red clover and pot
marigold revealed strong antioxidant abilities, with
the highest values being determined for beach
rose and damask rose tinctures.
Results on the correlation between antioxidant
power (determined by FRAP method expressed in
percent of 1 mg·ml-1 ascorbic acid solution) and
total phenolic content (determined using Folin-
Ciocalteu method) of flower extracts, for hydro-
lates, essential oils and tinctures (p = 0.00007),
are shown in Fig. 2. The Rosa genus extracts were
characterized not only by the strongest antioxidant
activities but also by the highest concentrations of
polyphenols. The Rosa extracts were represent-
ed by four outstanding points at the right side of
Fig. 2. Moreover after exclusion of rosal extracts,
the correlation was even stronger (p = 0.00000;
R2 = 0.6719; y = 5.4025 + 0.7236x).

Vitality of cells after treatment for 1 h and after
24 h with 1% flower tinctures diluted 100-fold in
the medium revealed that they did not affect cell
vitality. The mean cell vitality after 1 h incubation
in flower tinctures was (93.9 ± 2.6) % and, after
24 h, (73.0 ± 19.5) %, 100 % being the vitality of
control cells incubated in RPMI with 10% FBS.
The 1% dilution of essential oil was lethal for lym-
phocytes after 1 h incubation, and 0.1% was lethal
after the incubation time of 24 h. The results are
not visualised according to their homogenity.
Because of cytotoxicity, essential oils were ex-
cluded from further investigations regarding their
influence on DNA. The hydrolates were also ex-
cluded due to their weak antioxidant activity and
according to the fact that they were not standard-
ized during preparation.
Ascorbic acid
0 20 40 60 80 100
FRAP %[ ]
Lavandula augustifolia
Jasminum grandiflorum
Matricaria chamomilla
Rosa centifolia
Citrus aurantium
Centaurea cyanus
Rosa damascena
Lavandula augustifolia
Jasminum grandiflorum
Citrus aurantium
Rosa centifolia
Rosa damascena
Alcea rosea
Jasminum grandiflorum
Hibiscus sabdarifa
Matricaria chamomilla
Heliantus annuus
Primula vulgaris
Bellis perenis
Centaurea cyanus
Lavandula augustifolia
Viola cornuta
Calluna vulgaris
Sambucus nigra
Tagetes patula
Trifolium pratense
Calendula officinalis
Rosa rugosa
Rosa damascena
Hydrolates
Tinctures
Essential oils
 Antioxidant power of flower extracts.
FRAP ferric reducing antioxidant power of sample
expressed as percent of antioxidant abilities of ascorbic acid
solution (1 mg·ml-1).
0
20
40
60
80
100
120
0100 200 300 400 500 600
Polyphenols [mg·ml ]
-1
FRAP [%]
y x = 0.1581 + 27.1530
= 0.4609R2
 Correlation between antioxidant power
and concentration of polyphenols in flower extracts.
FRAP ferric reducing antioxidant power of sample
expressed as percent of antioxidant abilities of ascorbic acid
solution (1 mg·ml-1).
Concentration of polyphenols is expressed as milligrams of
quercetin equivalents per millilitre of sample.
Kalemba-Drożdż, M. – Cierniak, A. J. Food Nutr. Res., Vol. 58, 2019, pp. 42–50
46

The comet assay revealed that the flower ex-
tracts did not induce DNA damage in lymphocytes
(1% flower tinctures diluted 100-times in the me-
dium), which is presented in Fig. 3. The results of
DNA damage were expressed as TDC of treated
cells in reference to untreated cells. The flower
extracts in Fig. 3 were ordered according to the
decreasing protective abilities against induced
oxidative DNA damage. The exception were the
tinctures from pot marigold and red clover, which
seemed to induce DNA damage in lymphocytes
untreated with H2O2 (p = 0.003 and p = 0.018,
respectively). However, they effectively protected
DNA of lymphocytes from damage induced by
25 mmol·l-1 H2O2 (p = 0.0001 and p = 0.0004, re-
spectively).
The highest protective effect of flower extracts
against non-induced DNA damage was ob-
served for horned pansy (p = 0.0011), primrose
(p = 0.008), elderflower (p = 0.002), lavender
(p = 0.0018), French marigold (p = 0.027) and
heather (p = 0.034). Moreover, flower petal ex-
tracts from damask rose (p = 0.0001), beach rose
(p = 0.0001), pot marigold (p = 0.0001), French
marigold (p = 0.0031), lavender (p = 0.0049),
heather(p = 0.0073), red clover (p = 0.018), elder-
flower (p = 0.004), blue horned pansy (p = 0.016),
cornflower (p = 0.032) and daisy (p = 0.042) sig-
nificantly protected DNA of lymphocytes from
oxidative damage induced by hydrogen peroxide.
However, roselle (p = 0.034) and black hollyhock
(p = 0.012) extracts enhanced pro-oxidative action
of hydrogen H2O2 and induced increased oxida-
tive DNA damage in lymphocytes.
There was no correlation of the level of oxida-
tive damage in DNA of lymphocytes exposed to
1% flower extracts diluted 100-fold depending on
polyphenol concentration in extracts (p = 0.231;
R2 = 0.128). No such correlation was observed
also regarding FRAP (p = 0.740; R2 = 0.008).
However, there was a strong negative correlation
between the level of DNA damage (expressed as
TDC) induced with 25 mmol.l-1 H2O2 (p = 0.0004;
R2 = 0.697; y = 1.2957 0.0096x) and polyphenol
concentration (after exclusion of outstanding re-
sults for Rosa) as well as with FRAP (p = 0.00000;
no exclusions), which is shown in Fig. 4.

The obtained results proved that flower
extracts have antioxidant capacities. The antioxi-
dant potential differed among species and extract
types. The weakest antioxidant power was re-
1.4
0
0.4
0.6
0.8
1.0
1.2
1.6
0 20 40 60 80 100
FRAP [%]
TDC [%]
0.2
 Relation of genoprotective abilities
and antioxidant power of flower extracts.
TDC – tail DNA content, the level of DNA damage measured
by comet assay expressed as percent of DNA fluorescence
in comet tail to total fluorescence of the comet.
FRAP – ferric reducing antioxidant power expressed as
percent of antioxidant abilities of ascorbic acid solution
(1 mg·ml-1).
Control
0 0.2 0.4 0.6 0.8 1.4
TDC %[ ]
Alcea rosea
Hibiscus sabdarifa
Matricaria chamomilla
Heliantus annuus
Primula vulgaris
Bellis perenis
Centaurea cyanus
Lavandula augustifolia
Viola cornuta
Calluna vulgaris
Sambucus nigra
Tagetes patula
Trifolium pratense
Calendula officinalis
Rosa rugosa
Rosa damascena
without H O
2 2
with H O
2 2
1.2
1.0
 DNA damage in lymphocytes
treated with flower extracts.
TDC – tail DNA content, the level of DNA damage measured
by comet assay expressed as percentage of DNA fluores-
cence in comet tail to total fluorescence of the comet.
Antioxidant and genoprotective properties of extracts from edible flowers
47
vealed in hydrolates and the strongest in essential
oils. The aqueous-alcoholic extracts prepared from
rose petals were characterized by a strong antioxi-
dant activity. If we consider that the composition
of extracts depends on the method of extraction,
these results are not surprizing [21–23]. However,
essential oils diluted 100- and 1 000-fold were cyto-
toxic to lymphocytes.
Decision of choosing 40% tinctures for ex-
periments with cells was justified by the fact that
ethanol-aqueous extract would be the most com-
prehensive form of extract that contains both
hydrophilic and hydrophobic constituents. As it
was assumed, the edible flowers are usually con-
sumed as a part of a complex dish, therefore they
are eaten accompanied by fats and water, thus
polar and non-polar types of constituents are both
possible to be ingested.
The most interesting results were obtained for
different extracts from Rosa genus. Rosa rugosa
was confirmed as a strong antioxidant [5, 7, 24–27].
As it was shown, lavender oil showed a strong anti-
bacterial activity whereas hydrosol did not [28].
In our study, neither essential oil neither hydro-
lates did show a good antioxidant activity, but the
lavender tincture was a good antioxidant. This
confirms that the extraction method is crucial for
the extract composition. Furthermore, the results
suggest that antioxidant constituents of lavender
may by thermolabile.
Jasmine is considered a source of antiseptic,
antiviral and anti-inflammatory components like
oleuropein [29]. However, our results did not
reveal antioxidant properties of jasmine complex
extracts. The obtained results confirmed that corn-
flower possess rather weak antioxidant capacity
and protective abilities, as well as a low content of
phenolics [1, 7]. A similar situation was in case of
common daisy and primrose extracts, which were
characterized by moderate antioxidant and geno-
protective abilities. Blue-flowered horned pansy
was shown to be a strong antioxidant and a good
source of polyphenols. As it is a close relative to
garden pansy (Viola × wittrockiana) and Johnny-
jumps-up (Viola tricolor), it is justifiable to com-
pare their results [30, 31] and to corroborate the
good antioxidant capacities of Viola family. French
marigold was found to be a good source of anti-
oxidants with a high content of flavonoles [32]. Pot
marigold has previously shown cytotoxic effects on
mammalian cell lines [33]. However, our results
revealed this effect also on non-transformed
human lymphocytes. Nevertheless, pot marigolds
exhibit antioxidative pro perties as it was presented
by other researchers [7, 33, 34]. Sunflower petals,
holy hock, chamomile and hibiscus did not show
any antioxidant activity and these flower extracts
did not protect DNA against oxidative damage.
This is in contradiction with other studies [35, 36].
Obviously, not only polyphenols have impact
on antioxidative properties of flowers. Yellow and
orange blossoms contain carotenoids, which may
affect the relation between antioxidant properties
of flower extracts and the polyphenol content. In
our study, the good example for this case could
be the results obtained for French marigold in
which FRAP was definitely strongly outstanding
from correlation between antioxidant power and
polyphenol content suggesting that the high con-
centration of carotenoids, probably lutein, could
be responsible for this observation [37].
The case of heather, pot marigold and laven-
der suggested that not only the direct antioxidant
activity is responsible for cell protection, but the
possible mechanisms are also changes in the gene
expression or changes in the activity of enzymes
[38, 39].
Protective abilities of flower extracts against
DNA oxidative damages were primary related to
their antioxidative properties as it was proven by
strong negative correlation between those para-
meters.
As it was shown for the effective prevention for
cancer, one of the most important factors is that
the food is rich in antioxidants but not in dietary
supplements [40]. One of the reasons is the variety
of chemopreventive agents that can be found in
food and that such diversity is not offered by sup-
plements [41]. In order to improve antioxidant
properties of meals [42], addition of edible flowers
may give some supplementary chemoprotection to
human cells. Studies in South America revealed
that consumers were ready to buy food with edible
flowers due to their health benefits [43]. There-
fore, this is a feature that should be accented in
promotion of flowers as food. It is also worth em-
phasizing that, besides the strong antioxidant and
chemopreventive properties, these flowers taste
good.

Our results show that flowers of damask rose,
beach rose, French marigold, lavender, heather,
elderflower, horned pansy and cornflower can
be particularly useful in protecting human DNA
against oxidative damage. Further research with
animals is suggested to study the absorption and
the action of flower extracts in vivo.
Kalemba-Drożdż, M. – Cierniak, A. J. Food Nutr. Res., Vol. 58, 2019, pp. 42–50
48

The study was supported by Scientific Fund of
Andrzej Frycz Modrzewski Krakow University (Kraków,
Poland).
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... Before each experiment, lymphocytes were thawed in RPMI with 50% FBS and centrifuged at 1200 rpm at 4 • C for 5 min. Subsequently, the cells were seeded in a 96-well plate at a density of 1 × 10 4 cells per well in RPMI medium with 10% FBS and incubated at 37 • C in 5% CO 2 for 30 minutes [27]. Subsequently, the cells were incubated in 25, 50, 75, 100 M concentrations of PhIP, either with 0.1% berry juices for 1 hour. ...
... For viability measurements in the presence of berry juices and PhIP, the differential fluorescence staining method was performed [27]. Cells were seeded at 2 × 10 4 cells/well in 96-well plates for 1 and 24 hours and 0.1% juice or 100 M PhIP were added to the respective wells. ...
... The comet assay was performed under alkaline conditions according to the procedure described previously [27]. ...
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... In each experiment, the cells were thawed in 50% FBS in RPMI-1640 and centrifuged at 1200 rpm at 4 • C for 5 min. Subsequently, the lymphocytes were suspended in RPMI-1640 with 10% FBS in a 96-well plate at a density of 1 × 10 4 cells per well and incubated at 37 • C in 5% CO 2 for 30 min [21].To evaluate the genotoxicity/genoprotection, the lymphocytes were treated with plant extracts for 1 h and 25 µM H 2 O 2 for 5 min. The untreated cells were used as the negative control sample. ...
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... The analysis of nutraceutical food has increasingly shown that in flower tissues there are a wide range of phytochemicals with positive effects on human health ( Table 1). The most wellknown parameter of edible flowers is the marked antioxidant activity which is characteristic of almost all the species studied (Kaisoon et al., 2011;González-Barrio et al., 2018;Kalemba-Drożdż and Cierniak, 2019). A high antioxidant activity has been found not only in the floral tissues before their ingestion but also after the digestive processes, highlighting the prolonged bioactive effect of the various phytochemicals (Chen et al., 2015). ...
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Edible flowers have gained more attention in recent years thanks to their perceived health benefits. Despite this attention, it seems that edible flowers are not popularized for consumption in South America, being considered unfamiliar for some cultures from this continent. In this context, the general goal of the present study was to investigate the three dimensions of social representation theory, the representational field, the information and the attitude of the two conditions of edible flowers: a more general “food made with flowers” and more directional product “yoghurt made with flowers”, using Brazilian consumers. To achieve this goal, a free word association task was applied. A total of 549 consumers participated in this study. Participants were divided into two conditions, in which the inductor expressions for the free word association task changed: (a) food products made with flowers and (b) yoghurt made with flowers. Results showed a very positive attitude to both situations, and consumers associated Food products made with flowers to “health care” while the central core of yoghurt made with flowers reflected the innovative condition of this product, supported here by their unpredictable character (information generated).