Spices Volatilomic Fingerprinting—A Comprehensive Approach to Explore Its Authentication and Bioactive Properties
Volatile organic metabolites (VOMs) present in different spices can provide distinct analytical biosignatures related to organoleptic properties and health benefits. This study aimed to establish the volatilomic fingerprint of six of the most consumed spices all over the world (saffron (Crocus sativus L.), cinnamon (Cinnamomum verum), cumin (Cuminum cyminum L.), black pepper, (Piper nigrum L.), sweet paprika (Capsicum annuum L.), and curry (a mix of different herbs and spices)). Based on headspace solid phase microextraction (HS-SPME) followed by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) analysis, this is a powerful strategy to explore and establish the spice’s volatile pattern and unravel the potential health benefits related to the most important VOMs identified in each spice. This comprehensive knowledge will help in the definition of their authenticity, while simultaneously protecting against potential frauds and adulterations. A total of 162 VOMs were identified. Semi-quantitative assessments revealed that terpenoids and sesquiterpenoids amounted to the major volatile class in the investigated spices, except for cinnamon, where carbonyl compounds are the major group. Most of the studied spices comprised key characteristics of aroma and health bioactive compounds, e.g., dihydrojuneol in saffron, cinnamaldehyde in cinnamon, cuminaldehyde in cumin and curry, and caryophyllene in black pepper. The principal component analysis (PCA) and partial least-squares discriminant analysis (PLS-DA) successfully discriminated the investigated spices, being α-cubebene, 3-methyl butanal, β-patchoulene and β-selinene, the most important VOMs (highest VIP’s) that contributed to its discrimination. Moreover, some VOMs have a high influence on the spice’s bioactive potential, helping to prevent certain diseases including cancer, inflammatory-related diseases, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases.
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