Extracts from plants have considerable significance as bioactive compounds with several pharmacological applications. Polyphenols have attracted the attention as anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative materials. Nonetheless, the amount of these compounds in the extracts is typically very low. Consequently, green extraction techniques with higher efficiency for phenolic compounds are of paramount importance. Ionic liquids (ILs), which are also known as designer solvents can be used to extract polyphenols, however the search for ideal solvents is mostly done by trial and error. In this work, nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) is used to study the profile of ILs molecular interactions with model compounds that mimic polyphenols. The ILs that exhibit the strongest molecular interactions were proven to have the highest efficiency when extracting polyphenols from matcha Japanese green tea, known to be extremely rich in these compounds. Both the IL cation and anion have an influence on the solvent behaviour. The best IL solvents for matcha polyphenols were imidazolium derivatives with shorter alkyl side chains and weakly basic anions such as tricyanomethanide, dicyanamide and triflate. Thus, the NMR approach avoids an exhaustive testing and allows the rational selection of the best ILs for the extraction.
- Green solvent
- Ionic liquid
- Molecular interactions
- Nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy