Crude vegetable oils are usually oxidatively more stable than the corresponding refined oils. Tocopherols, phospholipids (PL), phytosterols, and phenols are the most important natural antioxidants in crude oils. Processing of vegetable oils, moreover, could induce the formation of antioxidants. Black cumin (Nigella sativa L.), coriander (Coriandrum sativum L.), and niger (Guizotia abyssinica Cass.) crude seed oils were extracted with n-hexane and the oils were further fractionated into neutral lipids (NL), glycolipids (GL), and PL. Crude oils and their fractions were investigated for their radical scavenging activity (RSA) toward the stable galvinoxyl radical by electron spin resonance (ESR) spectrometry and toward 1,1-diphenyl-2-picrylhydrazyl (DPPH) radical by spectrophotometric method. Coriander seed oil and its fractions exhibited the strongest RSA compared to black cumin and niger seed oils. The data correlated well with the total content of polyunsaturated fatty acids, unsaponifiables, and PL, as well as the initial peroxide values of crude oils. In overall ranking, RSA of oil fractions showed similar patterns wherein the PL exhibited greater activity to scavenge both free radicals followed by GL and NL, respectively. The positive relationship observed between the RSA of crude oils and their color intensity suggests the Maillard reaction products may have contributed to the RSA of seed oils and their polar fractions. The results demonstrate the importance of minor components in crude seed oils on their oxidative stability, which will reflect on their food value and shelf life. As part of the effort to assess the potential of these seed oils, the information is also of importance in processing and utilizing the crude oils and their byproducts.
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