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What exactly is a plant extract? An additive or a food?

Plant extracts are substances derived from plants (such as herbs, spices, essential oils, etc.) that are extracted or processed using appropriate solvents or methods (such as concentration, distillation, extraction, separation, drying).

How to classify plant extracts?

According to the different characters, it can be divided into vegetable oil, extract, powder, lens, etc. According to function, it can be divided into growth promoting agent, immune regulator, antioxidant, flavoring agent, deodorant, mildew prevention agent, product quality improver and so on. According to the different components of the extract, it can be divided into alkaloids, flavonoids, polysaccharides, glycosides, volatile oils, organic acids and other compounds.

What are the main components of plant extracts

  • Alkaloids, that is, vegetative alkaloids, are important active components of Chinese herbal medicine, such as the small lectin in Coptis coptidis and ephedrine in ephedra.
  • Flavonoids have antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and other biological activities. Common flavonoids include propolis, soy isoflavones, anthocyanins, tea polyphenols, etc.
  • Polysaccharides, such as ganoderma lucidum polysaccharide, lentinus edodes polysaccharide and algal polysaccharide, can reduce serum cholesterol, prevent cancer and regulate immunity.
  • Glycosides are substances formed by combining sugars with phenols and flavonoids. Different types of glycosides have different physiological activities and have various functions.
  • Volatile oil, also known as essential oil, is an oily liquid with aroma and volatility. Common volatile oil such as peppermint oil, rose essential oil and garlic oil.
  • Organic acids such as citric acid, lactic acid, malic acid and ascorbic acid are the most effective substitutes for antibiotics and can play a role in regulating intestinal flora.

Is plant extract a food additive or food?

At present, there is no uniform regulation on the use of plant extracts as food raw materials, and some of the substances are regulated in different forms. Some plant extracts can be used as food additives. According to their functions, they can be divided into:

  • Antioxidants: rosemary extract, tea polyphenols, licorice antioxidants.
  • Natural flavor: lilac bud tincture, bay leaf extract, ginger extract, licorice extract, aloe extract.
  • Colorant: beet red, caramel color, curcumin, chili red, citrus yellow.
  • Sweeteners: Soma sweet, stevia side, momorrhodoside, etc.