Red chicory (Cichorium intybus L. cultivar) as a potential source of antioxidant anthocyanins for intestinal health.Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2013; 2013:704310.OM
Fruit- and vegetable-derived foods have become a very significant source of nutraceutical phytochemicals. Among vegetables, red chicory (Cichorium Intybus L. cultivar) has gained attention for its content of phenolic compounds, such as the anthocyanins. In this study, we evaluated the nutraceutical effects, in terms of antioxidant, cytoprotective, and antiproliferative activities, of extracts of the whole leaf or only the red part of the leaf of Treviso red chicory (a typical Italian red leafy plant) in various intestinal models, such as Caco-2 cells, differentiated in normal intestinal epithelia and undifferentiated Caco-2 cells. The results show that the whole leaf of red chicory can represent a good source of phytochemicals in terms of total phenolics and anthocyanins as well as the ability of these phytochemicals to exert antioxidant and cytoprotective effects in differentiated Caco-2 cells and antiproliferative effects in undifferentiated Caco-2 cells. Interestingly, compared to red chicory whole leaf extracts, the red part of leaf extracts had a significantly higher content of both total phenolics and anthocyanins. The same extracts effectively corresponded to an increase of antioxidant, cytoprotective, and antiproliferative activities. Taken together, these findings suggest that the red part of the leaf of Treviso red chicory with a high content of antioxidant anthocyanins could be interesting for development of new food supplements to improve intestinal health.