Edible flowers of Helichrysum italicum: Composition, nutritive value, and bioactivities

Maria João Primitivo, Marta Neves, Cristiana L. Pires, Pedro F. Cruz, Catarina Brito, Ana C. Rodrigues, Carla C. C. R. de Carvalho, Megan M. Mortimer, Maria João Moreno, Rui M. M. Brito, Edward J. Taylor, Stefan H. Millson, Fernando Reboredo, Maria Jorge Campos, Daniela C. Vaz, Vânia S. Ribeiro

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Helichrysum italicum (H. italicum) is a halophyte shrub with bright yellow flowers with a strong curry-like aroma. The essential oils of H. italicum have been used in the production of cosmetics and pharmaceuticals, due to their antiallergic and anti-inflammatory properties. In the agri-food sector, H. italicum flowers can be used for seasoning and flavoring food, and as natural food preservatives. Here, we report on the composition, bioactive compounds, and nutritive value of H. italicum flowers. Flowers were mainly composed of carbohydrates (>80 % dry weight), followed by minerals (6.31 ± 0.95 % dw), protein (5.44 ± 0.35 % dw), and lipids (3.59 % ± 0.53 % dw). High percentages of Fe, Zn, Ca, and K were found in the flower material, along with a high content in antioxidants, polyphenols, and carotenoids, as corroborated by the nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) data. Flowers were mainly composed of saturated fatty acids (SFAs) (54.50 ± 0.95 % of total FA), followed by polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) (37.73 ± 1.25 % of total FA) and monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) (7.77 ± 0.34 %), as detected by gas chromatography mass spectrometry (GC–MS). The omega-6 PUFA linoleic acid (22.55 ± 0.76 % of total FA) was the most abundant fatty acid found. Flower extracts showed antimicrobial activity against Saccharomyces cerevisiae and Komagataella phaffii, as well as against Gram-negative (Klebsiella pneumoniae) and Gram-positive (Staphylococcus aureus) bacteria. H. italicum flower material was nontoxic to human intestinal Caco-2 model cells at concentrations up to 1.0 % w/v.

Original languageEnglish
Article number111399
Number of pages10
JournalFood Research International
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2022


  • Antimicrobial activity
  • Antioxidant activity
  • Caco-2 cells
  • Edible wildflowers
  • Fatty acids
  • Helichrysum italicum
  • Mineral content
  • Polyphenols


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