The prevention and treatment of non-communicable diseases by using the beneficial biological effects of polyphenolic plants have attracted increasing interest from nutritional scientists. The α-glucosidase inhibitory and antioxidant activities of aqueous and methanolic extracts from 28 common Vietnamese edible plants, comprising 4 groups (plants used for making drinks, edible wild vegetables, herbs, and dark green vegetables), were investigated in vitro. The polyphenol contents of these extracts were determined by the Folin-Ciocalteu method and calculated as catechin equivalents. The extracts from plants used for making drinks showed the highest activities for both α-glucosidase inhibition and as antioxidants, followed by edible wild vegetables, herbs, and dark green vegetables. Positive relationships among α-glucosidase inhibitory activities, antioxidant activities and polyphenol contents of these 28 edible plants were found in both aqueous and methanolic extracts. Four new promising materials that are similar to or better than guava leaf extract, including Syzygium zeylanicum, Cleistocalyx operculatus, Horsfieldia amygdalina and Careya arborea demonstrated high α-glucosidase inhibitory activity (93, 76, 68 and 67%, respectively) at the final concentration of 0.8 mg lyophilized material/mL solution and antioxidant activity (85, 87, 78 and 80%, respectively) at the final concentration of 30 μg lyophilized material/mL solution. These four edible plants contained significantly high polyphenol contents (equivalent to 251.7, 146.6, 136.6 and 168.6 mg of catechin/g dry weight, respectively). Thus, these four materials might be possible new sources of α-glucosidase inhibition and antioxidants suitable for use as functional foods in the future.
2007 by the Center for Academic Publications Japan