Composition and health effects of phenolic compounds in hawthorn (Crataegus spp.) of different origins



Epicatechin, aglycons and glycosides of B-type oligomeric procyanidins and flavonols, phenolic acids and C-glycosyl flavones are the major groups of phenolic compounds in hawthorn (Crataegus spp). The total content of phenolic compounds is higher in the leaves and flowers than in the fruits. Procyanidins dominate in the fruits, whereas flavonol glycosides and C-glycosyl flavones are most abundant in the leaves. Genotype and developmental/ripening stage have strong impacts. Procyanidin glycosides and C-glycosyl flavones may be chemotaxonomic markers differentiating species and varieties of hawthorn. Future research shall improve the separation, identification and quantification of procyanidins with degree of polymerisation (DP) ≥ 6, procyanidin glycosides, C-glycosyl flavones and some flavonol glycosides. In vitro and animal studies have shown cardioprotective, hypolipidaemic, hypotensive, antioxidant, radical-scavenging and anti-inflammatory potentials of hawthorn extracts, suggesting different phenolic compounds as the major bioactive components. However, the varying and insufficiently defined composition of the extracts investigated, as a result of different raw materials and extraction methods, makes comparison of the studies very difficult. Clinical evidence indicates that some hawthorn extracts may increase the exercise tolerance of patients with congestive heart failure. More clinical studies are needed to establish the effects of hawthorn, especially in healthy humans. Copyright © 2012 Society of Chemical Industry