It has been suggested that the part of the mechanism for hawthorn's cardiovascular protective effects may be due to protection against human LDL from oxidation or indirect protection via maintenance of alpha-tocopherol (Zhang et al 2001), as hawthorn extract has been found to possess antioxidant activity in vitro (Periera et al 2000, Rajalakshmi et al 2000) with effective inhibition of oxidative processes, efficient scavenging of 02-and possible enhancement of glutathione biosynthesis (Ljubuncic et al 2005).

Hawthorn's free radical scavenging capacity is considered to relate to its total phenolic proanthocyanidin and flavonoid content (Bahorun et al 1996, Rakotoarison et al 1997). This is supported by a study that demonstrated that the capacity of hawthorn extracts to inhibit Cu2+-induced LDL oxidation is linked to their content in total polyphenols, proanthocyanidins (global and oligomeric forms), as well as to their content of two individual phenolics: a flavonol, the dimeric procyanidin B2, and a flavonol glycoside, hyperoside (Quettier-Deleu et al 2003). The highest antioxidant activity appears to be found in the flower buds, which are high in proanthocyanidin content, and the leaves, which are high in flavonoid content (Bahorun et al 1994).

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