Leaf of Eucommia ulmoides
Oliver (EU) is a Traditional Chinese Medicine and a functional food in China. Antioxidant contents of EU leaves, which were collected monthly during the period of May–October in three years, were determined. Samples’ antioxidant capacity was characterized by DPPH radical scavenging activity, hydroxyl radical scavenging activity, ferrous chelating ability, and antioxidant capacity in linoleic acid emulsion and in rapeseed oil assays. The results showed that contents of some active compounds and antioxidant activity were related to a certain time of the year. Samples collected in August showed high content of phenolics, and the samples collected in May contained higher amount of flavonoids than other samples. Leaves collected in May or June exhibited high contents of rutin, quercetin, geniposidic acid and aucubin. The August leaves showed stable and high DPPH radical scavenging activity, and ferrous chelating ability. May samples showed strong inhibitory effects on oxidation of rapeseed oil and linoleic acid. The DPPH radical scavenging activity was related to the total phenolics content. Flavonoids played an important role in the inhibitory effects on rapeseed oil and linoleic acid oxidation. Therefore, August and May were indicated as the best months to harvest EU leaves for industry.