Plant Foods for Human Nutrition

, Volume 73, Issue 4, pp 253–267 | Cite as

Enhancement of Bioactivity of Natural Extracts by Non-Thermal High Hydrostatic Pressure Extraction

  • Hana Scepankova
  • Margarida Martins
  • Letícia Estevinho
  • Ivonne Delgadillo
  • Jorge A. Saraiva
Review Article


Natural extracts, like those obtained from medicinal herbs, dietary plants and fruits are being recognized as important sources of bioactive compounds with several functionalities including antioxidant, anticancer, and antimicrobial activities. Plant extracts rich in phenolic antioxidants are currently being successfully used for several pharmaceutical applications and in the development of new foods (i.e., functional foods), in order to enhance the bioactivity of the products and to replace synthetic antioxidants. The extraction method applied in the recovery of the bioactive compounds from natural materials is a key factor to enhance the bioactivity of the extracts. However, most of the extraction techniques have to employ heat, which can easily lead to heat-sensitive compounds losing their biological activity, due to changes caused by temperature. Presently, high hydrostatic pressure (HHP) is being increasingly explored as a cold extraction method of bioactive compounds from natural sources. This non-thermal high hydrostatic pressure extraction (HHPE) technique allows one to reduce the extraction time and increase the extraction of natural beneficial ingredients, in terms of nutritional value and biological activities and thus enhance the bioactivity of the extracts. This review provides an updated and comprehensive overview on the extraction efficiency of HHPE for the production of natural extracts with enhanced bioactivity, based on the extraction yield, total content and individual composition of bioactive compounds, extraction selectivity, and biological activities of the different plant extracts, so far studied by extraction with this technique.


Natural extract High hydrostatic pressure Extraction Antioxidant activity Phenolic compounds 



High pressure processing


High hydrostatic pressure


High hydrostatic pressure extraction


Conventional extraction


Heat reflux extraction


Leaching at room temperature


Ultrasonication extraction



The authors are grateful to the Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT) of Portugal for the PhD grants attributed to H. Scepankova (SFRH/BD/88133/2012) and M. Martins (SFRH/BD/122220/2016) and to FCT/MEC for the financial support to the QOPNA research Unit (FCT UID/QUI/00062/2013), through national funds and where applicable co-financed by the FEDER, within the PT2020 Partnership Agreement.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Permission to used material already published was carried out and granted.

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hana Scepankova
    • 1
  • Margarida Martins
    • 2
  • Letícia Estevinho
    • 3
    • 4
  • Ivonne Delgadillo
    • 1
  • Jorge A. Saraiva
    • 1
  1. 1.QOPNA, Department of ChemistryUniversity of AveiroAveiroPortugal
  2. 2.CICECO - Aveiro Institute of Materials, Department of ChemistryUniversity of AveiroAveiroPortugal
  3. 3.Agricultural College of BragançaPolytechnic Institute of BragançaBragançaPortugal
  4. 4.Centre of Molecular and Environmental BiologyUniversity of MinhoBragaPortugal

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