Soilless Cultivated Halophyte Plants: Volatile, Nutritional, Phytochemical, and Biological Differences

Sheila C. Oliveira-Alves, Fábio Andrade, João Sousa, Andreia Bento-Silva, Bernardo Duarte, Isabel Caçador, Miguel Salazar, Elsa Mecha, Ana Teresa Serra, Maria Rosário Bronze

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The use of halophyte plants appears as a potential solution for degraded soil, food safety, freshwater scarcity, and coastal area utilization. These plants have been considered an alternative crop soilless agriculture for sustainable use of natural resources. There are few studies carried out with cultivated halophytes using a soilless cultivation system (SCS) that report their nutraceutical value, as well as their benefits on human health. The objective of this study was to evaluate and correlate the nutritional composition, volatile profile, phytochemical content, and biological activities of seven halophyte species cultivated using a SCS (Disphyma crassifolium L., Crithmum maritimum L., Inula crithmoides L., Mesembryanthemum crystallinum L., Mesembryanthemum nodiflorum L., Salicornia ramosissima J. Woods, and Sarcocornia fruticosa (Mill.) A. J. Scott.). Among these species, results showed that S. fruticosa had a higher content in protein (4.44 g/100 g FW), ash (5.70 g/100 g FW), salt (2.80 g/100 g FW), chloride (4.84 g/100 g FW), minerals (Na, K, Fe, Mg, Mn, Zn, Cu), total phenolics (0.33 mg GAE/g FW), and antioxidant activity (8.17 µmol TEAC/g FW). Regarding the phenolic classes, S. fruticosa and M. nodiflorum were predominant in the flavonoids, while M. crystallinum, C. maritimum, and S. ramosissima were in the phenolic acids. Moreover, S. fruticosa, S. ramosissima, M. nodiflorum, M. crystallinum, and I. crithmoides showed ACE-inhibitory activity, an important target control for hypertension. Concerning the volatile profile, C. maritimum, I. crithmoides, and D. crassifolium were abundant in terpenes and esters, while M. nodiflorum, S. fruticosa, and M. crystallinum were richer in alcohols and aldehydes, and S. ramosissima was richer in aldehydes. Considering the environmental and sustainable roles of cultivated halophytes using a SCS, these results indicate that these species could be considered an alternative to conventional table salt, due to their added nutritional and phytochemical composition, with potential contribution for the antioxidant and anti-hypertensive effects.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1161
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2023


  • antihypertensive activity
  • fatty acids
  • phenolics
  • salt-tolerating plants
  • soilless agriculture


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