Phenolic compounds are a widespread group of secondary metabolites found in all plants, representing the most desirable antioxidants due to their potential to be used as additives in the food industry (inhibition of lipid oxidation), and in cosmetology and medicine (protection against oxidative stress). In recent years, demand for the identification of edible sources rich in phenolic antioxidants, as well as the development of new natural plant products to be used as dietary supplements or pharmaceuticals, has been a great preoccupation. At present, from the “circular economy” perspective, there is an increased interest to use agricultural waste resources to produce high-value compounds. Vaccinium
leaves and stems are considered essentially an agro-waste of the berry industry. Scientific studies have shown that phenolic compounds were found in a markedly higher content in the leaves and stems of Vaccinium
plants than in the fruits, in agreement with the strongest biological and antioxidant activities displayed by these aerial parts compared to fruits. This paper aims to review the current state of the art regarding the phenolic antioxidants from leaves and stems of two wild Vaccinium
species, bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus
L.) and lingonberry (Vaccinium vitis-idaea
L.), as promising natural resources with pharmaceutical and biological activity.
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