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Flavonoid and cyanogenic contents of chaya (spinach tree)


Chaya (Cnidoscolus chayamansa, McVaugh) is an ubiquitous plant in southern Mexico. Its high nutritional value is well documented but its content of toxic cyanide glycosides and medicinal metabolites are undetermined. The concentrations of HCN and derivatives from chaya leaves were measured in the range of 2.37-4.25 mg/100 of dry weight. Several thermal treatments were tested to eliminate these undesirable components. Five minutes in boiling water was enough to destroy any residualcyanide. This pretreatment is recommended for safe consumption of the leaves. Some of the medicinal properties attributed to chaya may be due to the four flavonoids isolated from the aerial parts of this plant. Dihydromyricetin was isolated from the bark while the leaves had the biflavonoid (3′→ 8)-diapigenin (amentoflavone) and the glycosides kaempferol-3-O-glucoside (astragalin) and kaempferol-3-O-rutinoside.

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González-Laredo, R., Flores De La Hoya, M., Quintero-Ramos, M. et al. Flavonoid and cyanogenic contents of chaya (spinach tree). Plant Foods Hum Nutr 58, 1–8 (2003).

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  • chaya
  • Cnidoscolus
  • cyanogenic glycosides
  • flavonoids
  • polyphenols