Angelica sinensis (AS) was extracted with water or 20% ethanol for different time periods, and the antioxidant activity as well as flavor quality of the extracts were investigated. The AS extracts contained significant amount of phenolic acids, including nicotinic acid, phthalic acid, p-coumaric acid, and ferulic acid. Regardless the water or alcohol extraction, most of the phenolic acids reached their maximum values in 15 min. Assays including inhibition of 1,1-diphenylpicrylhydrazyl (DPPH), lipid peroxidation, and DNA relaxation activities also indicated that 15 min extraction resulted in a product with the highest antioxidant activity. The 15 min AS extracts in the concentration range of 20-200 μg/ml also showed inhibitory effects on NO production in LPS-activated RAW 264.7 macrophage in a dose-dependent manner. Statistical analysis revealed that the antioxidant activity and phenolic acid concentration for all AS extracts exhibited a positive and significant linear correlation, suggesting that the phenolic acids are the important contributors for the antioxidant activity of the AS extracts. The contents of volatile compounds of AS were much higher in the 20% ethanol extracts than those in water extracts. In the 20% ethanol extracts, the amount of ligustilide, butylidene phthalide and butyl phthalide were higher in the 30-min extracts than that prepared for longer time. Considering both of antioxidant activity and flavor quality, the AS extract should be prepared with 20% ethanol with extraction time less than 30 min.
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