Preserving foods, beverages and supplements with polyphenol-rich plant extracts

Published: 4-Jul-2024

As consumer preferences shift towards natural and clean label products, the industry faces the challenge of replacing synthetic antioxidants with natural alternatives that can effectively prevent oxidation; natural, polyphenol-rich plant extracts have emerged as promising solutions

Consumers are increasingly concerned about the ingredients in their foods and supplements, notes James Roza (pictured), Chief Scientific Officer at Layn Natural Ingredients. They’re reading labels and showing a strong preference for products that are free from synthetic chemicals.

This demand is further reinforced by regulatory bodies scrutinising artificial additives more closely. Polyphenols, a diverse family of more than 8000 compounds found in fruits, vegetables, teas and herbs, are gaining attention for their antioxidant properties.

They offer a natural means to combat oxidation in food and beverage products.

Mechanisms of polyphenols in oxidation control

Oxidation can deteriorate lipids, proteins and vitamins, and can impact the sensory and nutritional quality of products. Polyphenols can help to prevent this through several mechanisms:

  • free radical scavenging: polyphenols donate hydrogen atoms to free radicals, neutralising them and preventing oxidative chain reactions
  • metal chelation: polyphenols chelate metal ions, thereby reducing their catalytic ability to form free radicals
  • stabilisation of lipid membranes: by integrating into lipid membranes, polyphenols help to stabilise them against oxidative stress.

Industry trends and drivers

Several trends are driving the adoption of natural antioxidants, including the following:

  • clean label movement: consumers favour transparency and simplicity in ingredient lists, preferring recognisably natural components
  • regulatory pressures: increasing regulations regarding synthetic additives are pushing manufacturers to find natural alternatives that comply with new standards
  • health and wellness trends: awareness of the health benefits of polyphenols, including their antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and cardioprotective effects, is growing.

Preserving foods, beverages and supplements with polyphenol-rich plant extracts

Natural preservation solutions

SustaNX ingredient solutions from Layn are oil-dispersible liquids and water-soluble powders that enable compatibility across industries and product delivery formats.

This solution combines a chelating agent with a free-radical scavenger and has demonstrated a four-fold better performance than mixed tocopherols. This enables brands to use reduced amounts and potentially realise significant cost-in-use benefits.

Layn has also introduced single ingredient botanical extracts for shelf-life and preservation applications, including rosemary and green tea. 

Rigorous testing has scientifically demonstrated that Layn’s SustaNX solution platform can provide a natural alternative to EDTA and other synthetic antioxidants by offering effective preservation and shelf-life extension (protecting product flavour, colour and aroma).

All these natural solutions have demonstrated proven success in nutraceutical oils, butter, meats, bakery, seasonings, essential oils and pet food applications.

Efficacy of polyphenol-rich extracts in different matrices

Layn Natural Ingredients has conducted research on the efficacy of polyphenol-rich extracts in various food and supplement matrices, showing promising results in terms of enhancing the oxidative stability of oils and other lipid-containing products.

Fish oil: Rich in omega-3 fatty acids, fish oil is highly prone to oxidation. Layn's SustaNX001, a proprietary polyphenol-rich extract, demonstrated superior oxidative stability compared with synthetic antioxidants such as mixed tocopherols and α-tocopherol. At concentrations of 1000–3000 ppm, SustaNX001 significantly extended the oxidative stability index (OSI) of fish oil.

Like this story? Subscribe to Nutraceutical Business Review magazine for incisive analysis, the latest news and expert-written articles from the functional food and drink industries. For more information click here.

Algal oil: Similar results were observed with algal oil, a popular vegan alternative to fish oil. The inclusion of SustaNX001 increased the OSI by more than 200%, highlighting its effectiveness as a natural antioxidant in plant-based oils.

Flax, perilla and sea buckthorn oils: Layn’s studies also explored the impact of polyphenol-rich extracts on flax, perilla and sea buckthorn oils. In each case, SustaNX001 outperformed synthetic antioxidants, significantly increasing the OSI and demonstrated protection against oxidation at elevated temperatures.

Application considerations

When incorporating polyphenol-rich extracts into products to help extend a product’s shelf-life, manufacturers must consider factors such as

  • proportions of water and oil: the solubility of polyphenols varies, requiring careful formulation to ensure effective distribution
  • sensory attributes: some polyphenols may impart slight bitterness, which can be mitigated with formulation adjustments
  • process integration: polyphenols should be incorporated early in the production process to maximize their protective effects.

The advantages of polyphenol-rich extracts include the following:

  • versatility: polyphenols can be used in various food and beverage matrices, including oils, emulsions and dry products
  • natural appeal: as plant-derived compounds, polyphenols align with consumer preferences for natural ingredients
  • enhanced efficacy: research indicates that polyphenols can offer comparable or superior antioxidant protection compared with synthetic options
  • health benefits: beyond preservation, polyphenols provide additional health benefits, enhancing the value of the final product.

Future outlook

The future of natural antioxidants looks promising, with ongoing research and development aiming to optimise their applications and efficacy.

Advances and innovation in extraction technologies and formulation techniques will enhance the stability and sensory profile of polyphenol-rich products, making them more viable for various applications.


As the demand for clean label and natural products continues to grow, polyphenol-rich plant extracts offer a viable solution when it comes to preserving the quality and extending the shelf-life of foods, beverages and supplements.

Their efficacy, coupled with health benefits and alignment with consumer preferences, makes them a valuable addition to product formulations.

Manufacturers should consider integrating these natural antioxidants to ensure that their products remain fresh, nutritious and appealing, while also meeting regulatory standards and consumer demands.

By leveraging the power of natural polyphenols, manufacturers can also contribute to the broader movement towards natural and sustainable food systems.

You may also like