The search for natural antioxidants from plants would continue to be a dominant research interest for many years. This is because of the increasing understanding on the role of oxidative stress in damaging cell structures such as DNA, due to over production of free radicals and reactive oxygen species (ROS) in human systems, which are linked to inflammation, cancer and diabetes. However, phenolic compounds especially from phytochemicals or vegetable foods play important roles in reducing the risk of these diseases and reinforces the importance of natural antioxidants in human health. These antioxidant molecules neutralize or quench the ROS by either hydrogen atom transfer or single electron transfer mechanisms. Thus, the capacity to scavenge ROS and free radicals or inhibits lipid peroxidation is measured quantitatively as the strength of antioxidant activity. Several chemical and biochemical protocols have been used in the evaluation of plant extracts as antioxidants. Overwhelming literature reports have indicated varying degrees of antioxidant efficacies of extracts from Nigerian medicinal plants in comparison to synthetic antioxidants. These efficacies were analyzed to provide insight into the strength of antioxidant activity. This chapter reviewed 250 Nigerian medicinal plants in search of evidence for effective antioxidants.
Part of the book: Lipid Peroxidation Research