Potential health-related phytoconstituents in leaves of Chenopodium quinoa

Full Length Research Article

Potential health-related phytoconstituents in leaves of Chenopodium quinoa

Arshad Javaid1*, Farman Ahmad Chaudhury2, Iqra Haider Khan1, Malik F. H. Ferdosi3

Adv. life sci., vol. 9, no. 4, pp. 574-588, December 2022
*Corresponding Author: Arshad Javaid (Email: arshad.iags@pu.edu.pk)
Authors' Affiliations

 1. Department of Plant Pathology, Faculty of Agricultural Sciences, University of the Punjab, Lahore – Pakistan
2. School of Food Sciences and Technology, Minhaj University Lahore – Pakistan
3. Department of Horticulture, Faculty of Agricultural Sciences, University of the Punjab, Lahore – Pakistan 
[Date Received: 19/09/2022; Date Revised: 16/12/2022; Date Published: 31/12/2022]

Abstractaa download_button



Background: Chenopodium quinoa Willd. or quinoa is an important food crop, having many pharmacological properties. It is recently introduced in Pakistan. In the present study, a phytochemical profile of its leaf extract was assessed through GC-MS analysis, and the health-related compounds were identified through a literature survey.

Methods: Quinoa was grown in Lahore, Pakistan, and its leaves were collected at maturity, dried, ground, and extracted in methanol. GC-MS analysis of this extract was done that showed the presence of 30 compounds.

Results: The most abundant compound was α-linolenic acid (12.13%), followed by n-hexadecanoic acid (11.51%), ergosta-5,7-dien-3-ol, (3β)- (10.99%), phytol (10.25%), and stigmast-7-en-3-ol, (3.beta.,5.alpha.,24S)- (7.33%). Moderately occurring compounds included DL-proline, 5-oxo-, methyl ester (6.01%), hydroxylamine, O-pentyl- (5.38%), neophytadiene (4.36%), 2-methoxy-4-vinylphenol (3.96%), 2-isopropoxyethyl propionate (3.84%), vitamin E (2.52%), and linolenic acid, methyl ester (2.46%). The remaining compounds were less abundant, having peak areas of less than 2%.

Conclusion: Literature survey revealed that α-linolenic acid; n-hexadecanoic acid; phytol; squalene, vitamin E and linolenic acid, and methyl ester; present in leaf extract of quinoa possess various health-related properties such as antibacterial, antifungal, cardio-protective, anti-inflammatory, hypocholesterolemic, antihistaminic, antiandrogenic and antieczemic.                    

Keywords: Amaranthaceae; Bioactive compounds; Leaf extract; Pakistan; Quinoa      

Introduction6th button-01

Plants are the basis of both traditional and modern drug discoveries [1]. These are a supply of secondary metabolites having exciting biological properties that continue to play a significant role to provide mankind with remedies against ailments [2-4]. These metabolites have a wide variety of structural arrangements and properties. Information on phytochemicals is needed for the discovery of therapeutic compounds as well as for identifying new sources for the preparation of complex molecules [1]. Several reports on green plants represent that these are easily biodegradable and are a reservoir of effective chemotherapeutics while most of them remain neglected, undocumented, and are becoming rare [5]. In different cultures, the majority of higher plant species are well documented in the healthcare system by producing essential oils, biocides, agrochemicals, and pharmaceuticals [6-8]. The introduction of natural-originated novel drugs has drawn attention to identifying, exploring, and preserving various plants for the preparation of drug formulations [9].

Chenopodium quinoa Willd. stress-tolerant food crop that has been grown in the Andean region for several thousand years. Recently, it has been introduced in various countries in Europe, Asia, Africa, and North and South America [10]. It grows well under adverse conditions like wind, hail, frost, drought, and saline soils [11]. It is an important source of vitamins, essential nutrients, amino acids, and minerals. It also contains compounds like saponins, phytosterols, polyphenols, and flavonoids [12,13]. It is a gluten-free crop that has many positive characteristics, including dietary fibers help in the lowering of cholesterol in the blood to reduce cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, anemia, and obesity [14,15]. Moreover, recent investigations have focused on the therapeutic properties and chemical constituents of quinoa which is rapidly gaining recognition as a nutraceutical and functional food [16]. It different parts contain excellent antifungal, antioxidant, antiviral, anticancer, hypoglycemic, hypocholesterolemic, anti-inflammatory, antithrombotic, and diuretic activities effective against a wide range of human diseases [17-19]. This study was undertaken to explore the phytochemical profile of C. quinoa methanolic leaf extract through GC-MS analysis.

Methods6th button-01

Sample collections

Mature C. quinoa plants cultivated at Punjab University, Lahore, Pakistan were selected for experimentation. Young plant leaves were collected, washed under running tap water, and kept under shade. After ten days, dried leaves were collected, placed in paper bags, and kept in a dry heat oven for two days at 35 ℃ for complete removal of moisture contents. Thereafter, leaves were crushed using a pestle and mortar.

Extract preparation

The methanolic extract was prepared by using 50 g of C. quinoa dried plant leaves. The material was dipped in high-grade methanol 100 mL for fifteen days at room temperature. After that, it was passed through two layers of a Whatman filter, and the resultant was collected in a glass vial (5 mL) for GC-MS analysis.  

GC-MS analysis

Gas chromatography (GC) machine model 7890B, Agilent Technologies (USA) was used for the evaluation of the phytochemical profile of C. quinoa leaf methanolic extract. Helium, an inert gas was used as a carrier. The column DB-5ms was selected having 0.25 µm × 30 m × 0.25 µm dimensions with an injection volume of 1 µL. The initial oven temperature was 80 ºC, which raised up to 300 ºC with an interval of 10 ºC min-1. MS analysis was carried out on machine model 5977A, Agilent Technologies (USA). The scan ranged between 50-500 m/z with a solvent delay time of 5 min. The sample run for 50 min, and the source temperature was 230 ℃. For the characterization of the phytochemical profile, the obtained spectrum was analyzed with NIST library version 2017. Compounds' relative abundance was analyzed by using chromatogram peak heights, and their structures were drawn in ChemDraw software [8].   

Literature survey

A comprehensive literature survey was performed on the basis of previously reported biological activities of the identified compounds.

Results6th button-01

GC-MS chromatogram shows the presence of 30 compounds in the leaf extract of quinoa (Fig. 1), with their details in Table 1. α-Linolenic acid was the most abundant compound. Other frequently occurring compounds were n-hexadecanoic acid (11.51%), ergosta-5,7-dien-3-ol, (3β)- (10.99%), phytol (10.25%), and stigmast-7-en-3-ol, (3.beta.,5.alpha.,24S)- (7.33%). Compounds with peak areas between 2 and 7, namely DL-proline, 5-oxo-, methyl ester (6.01%), hydroxylamine, O-pentyl- (5.38%), neophytadiene (4.36%), 2-methoxy-4-vinylphenol (3.96%), 2-isopropoxyethyl propionate (3.84%), vitamin E (2.52%), and linolenic acid, methyl ester (2.46%), were categorized as moderately occurring ones. Compounds showing peak areas smaller than 2% were named as less abundant. These included 3-methylene-7,11-dimethyl-1-dodecene (1.64%), linolelaidic acid (1.59%), pentadecanoic acid, methyl ester (1.45%), pelletierine (1.36%), phenol, 4-(ethoxymethyl)-2-methoxy- (1.23%), 11,13-dimethyl-12-tetradecen-1-ol acetate (1.16%),

squalene (1.08%), nonanoic acid (0.95%), cyclopentane, decyl- (0.93%), benzofuran, 2,3-dihydro- (0.86%), cyclopropaneoctanal, 2-octyl (0.85%), 2-ethoxy-3,5-hexadiene (0.82%), isoaromadendrene epoxide (0.72%), 1,1,1,3,5,5,5-heptamethyltrisiloxane (0.68%), octanoic acid, 4-tridecyl ester (0.62%), 9,12-octadecadienoic acid (Z,Z)-, methyl ester (0.61%), dimethylaminoethyl palmitate (0.60%).


Figures & Tables





Discussion6th button-01

The most abundant compound linolenic acid, a polyunsaturated fatty acid, has a number of biological activities including antibacterial activity against Bacillus subtilis and Staphylococcus aureus [20]. It can act as a potential anti-inflammatory molecule in eye inflammation [21]. Moreover, it also has other important functions, such as improving cardiovascular health, and brain development, and is an anti-tumor agent [22]. Likewise, n-hexadecanoic acid or palmitic acid, is an important biologically active molecule also found in Coronopus didymus [23] and Chenopodium murale [24], and has antioxidant, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, hypocholesterolemic, and pesticidal properties [25,26]. Phytol has been identified in Euphorbia prostrata [27], Ageratum conyzoides flowers [28], and various other plant species. It exhibited antibacterial activity against Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Bacillus licheniformis [29,30], and antifungal activity against Aspergillus niger and Candida albicans [31].

Among the moderately occurring compounds,  linolenic acid, methyl ester has earlier been identified in many other plants, including quinoa roots [32] and Vinca major flowers [33]. It has many biological properties such as anticancer, antiarthritic, anti-inflammatory, antihistaminic, antiandrogenic, antieczemic, nematicidal, cardio-protective, and hypocholesterolemia [34,35] (Akpuaka et al., 2013; Devi and Muthu, 2014). Vitamin E, obtained from the diet, is an important fat-soluble molecule in the antioxidant defense system of the cell. It is effective against cancer, cataracts, and arthritis, and also reduces the formation of prostaglandins that causes platelet clumping [36].

Among less abundant compounds, 9,12-octadecadienoic acid (Z,Z)-, methyl ester has many biological properties, including zinc bioavailability enhancer, urine acidifier, and uric acid inhibitor [37]. Likewise, squalene belongs to triterpenes, and mostly occurs in adequate quantity in various oils such as olive and palm oils. It has antioxidant as well as antitumor properties [38].

This study concludes that leaves of quinoa contain a number of bioactive molecules such as α-linolenic acid; phytol; linolenic acid, methyl ester, squalene, n-hexadecanoic acid; and vitamin E. These compounds possess a number of health-related properties including antibacterial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, cardio-protective, antihistaminic, hypocholesterolemic, antieczemic and antiandrogenic.

6th button-01

Author Contributions

AJ conceived idea and wrote most part of this manuscript; IHK did experimental work, contributed in paper writing and draw structures of the compounds; FAC did final editing; and MFHF monitored GC-MS analysis.w.

6th button-01

Conflict of Interest

Authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


  1. Süntar I. Importance of ethnopharmacological studies in drug discovery: role of medicinal plants. Phytochemistry Reviews, (2020); 19: 1199-1209.
  2. Kayser O. Ethnobotany and medicinal plant biotechnology: from tradition to modern aspects of drug development. Planta Medica, (2018); 84: 834-838.
  3. Khan IH, Javaid A. Antifungal, antibacterial and antioxidant components of ethyl acetate extract of quinoa stem. Plant Protection, (2019); 3(3): 125-130.
  4. Khan IH, Javaid A. Anticancer, antimicrobial and antioxidant compounds of quinoa inflorescence. Advancements in Life Sciences, (2020); 8(1): 68-72.  
  5. Tran N, Pham B, Le L. Bioactive compounds in anti-diabetic plants: From herbal medicine to modern drug discovery. Biology, (2020); 9: 252.
  6. Shala AY, Gururani MA. Phytochemical properties and diverse beneficial roles of Eucalyptus globulus Labill.: A review. Horticulturae, (2021); 7: 450.
  7. Javaid N, Shah MH, Khan IH, Javaid A, Waleed SM. Herbicidal activity of Ageratum conyzoides against parthenium. Pakistan Journal of Weed Science Research, (2020); 26(2): 137-146.
  8. Javaid A, Khan IH, Ferdosi MFH. Bioactive constituents of wild Cannabis sativa roots from Pakistan. Pakistan Journal of Weed Science Research, (2021); 27(3): 359-368.
  9. Rahman HS, Othman HH, Hammadi NI, Yeap SK, Amin KM, Samad NA, Alitheen NB. Novel drug delivery systems for loading of natural plant extracts and their biomedical applications. International Journal of Nanomedicine, (2020); 15: Article 2439.
  10. Präger A, Munz S, Nkebiwe PM, Mast B. Graeff-Hönninger, S., Yield and quality characteristics of different quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa Willd.) cultivars grown under field conditions in Southwestern Germany. Agronomy, (2018); 8: Article 197.
  11. García-Parra M, Zurita-Silva A, Stechauner-Rohringer R, Roa-Acosta D, Jacobsen SE. Quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa Willd.) and its relationship with agroclimatic characteristics: A Colombian perspective. Chilean Journal of Agricultural Research, (2020); 80: 290-302.
  12. Gómez MJR, Prieto JM, Sobrado VC, Magro PC. Nutritional characterization of six quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa Willd) varieties cultivated in Southern Europe. Journal of Food Composition and Analysis, (2021); 99: Article 103876.
  13. Murteira M, Turcios AE, Calado R, Lillebø AI, Papenbrock J. Relevance of nitrogen availability on the phytochemical properties of Chenopodium quinoa cultivated in marine hydroponics as a functional food. Scientia Horticulturae, (2022); 291: Article 110524.
  14. Angeli V, Miguel SP, Crispim MD, Khan MW, Hamar A, Khajehei F, Piatti C. Quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa Willd.): An overview of the potentials of the “golden grain” and socio-economic and environmental aspects of its cultivation and marketization. Foods, (2020); 9: Article 216.
  15. Sezgin AC, Sanlier N. A new generation plant for the conventional cuisine: Quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa Willd.). Trends in Food Science and Technology, (2020); 86: 51-58.
  16. Hernández-Ledesma B. Quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa Willd.) as source of bioactive compounds: A review. Bioactive Compounds in Health and Disease, (2019); 2: 27-47.
  17. El Hazzam K, Hafsa J, Sobeh M, Mhada M, Taourirte M, El Kacimi K, Yasri A. An insight into saponins from Quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa Willd): A review. Molecules, (2020); 25: Article 1059.
  18. Khan IH, Javaid A. Antifungal activity and GC-MS analysis of n-butanol extract of quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa Willd.) leaves. Bangladesh Journal of Botany, (2020); 49(4): 1045-1051.                          
  19. Khan IH, Javaid A. Hexane soluble bioactive components of leaf extract of quinoa. Journal of Animal and Plant Sciences, (2022); 32(2): 309-314.
  20. Kusumah D, Wakui M, Murakami M, Xie X, Yukihito K, Maeda I. Linoleic acid, α-linolenic acid, and monolinolenins as antibacterial substances in the heat-processed soybean fermented with Rhizopus oligosporus. Bioscience, Biotechnology and Biochemistry, (2020); 84: 1285-1290.
  21. Erdinest N, Shmueli O, Grossman Y, Ovadia H, Solomon A. Anti-inflammatory effects of alpha linolenic acid on human corneal epithelial cells. Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science, (2012); 53: 4396-4406.
  22. Schulze M, Minihane A, Saleh R. Intake and metabolism of omega-3 and omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids: nutritional implications for cardiometabolic diseases. Lancet Diabetes Endocrinology, (2020); 8: 915-930.
  23. Javaid A, Latif U, Akhtar N, Ahmed D, Perveen S. Molecular characterization of Fusarium moniliforme and its management by methanolic extract of Coronopus didymus. Pakistan Journal of Botany, (2018); 50(5): 2069-2075.
  24. Naqvi SF, Khan IH, Javaid A. Hexane soluble bioactive components of Chenopodium murale stem. Pakistan Journal of Weed Science Research, (2020) 26(4): 425-432.
  25. Abubakar MN, Majinda RRT. GC-MS Analysis and preliminary antimicrobial activity of Albizia adianthifolia Schumach and Pterocarpus angolensis. Medicines, (2016); 3: Article 3.
  26. Rahuman AA, Gopalakrishnan G, Ghouse BS, Arumugam S, Himalayan B. Effect of Feronia limonia on mosquito larvae. Fitoterapia, (2000); 71: 553-555.
  27. Ferdosi MFH, Javaid A, Khan IH, Fardosi MFA, Munir A. Bioactive components in methanolic flower extract of Ageratum conyzoides. Pakistan Journal of Weed Science Research, (2021); 27(2): 181-190.                                                              
  28. Ferdosi MFH, Khan IH, Javaid A, Nadeem M, Munir A. Natural pesticidal compounds of Euphorbia prostrata.  Pakistan Journal of Phytopathology (2021); 33(2): 349-355. 
  29. Lee W, Woo ER, Lee DG. Phytol has antibacterial property by inducing oxidative stress response in Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Free Radical Research, (2016); 50: 1309-1318.
  30. Saha M, Bandyopadhyay PK. In vivo and in vitro antimicrobial activity of phytol, a diterpene molecule, isolated and characterized from Adhatoda vasica Nees. (Acanthaceae), to control severe bacterial disease of ornamental fish, Carassius auratus, caused by Bacillus licheniformis PKBMS 16. Microbial Pathogenisis, (2020); 141: Article 103977.
  31. Ghaneian MT, Ehrampoush MH, Jebali A, Hekmatimoghaddam S, Mahmoudi M. Antimicrobial activity, toxicity and stability of phytol as a novel surface disinfectant. Environmental Health Engineering and Management Journal, (2015); 2(1): 13-16.
  32. Khan IH, Javaid A. Identification of pharmaceutically important constituents of quinoa root. Jordan Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences, (2022); 15: Accepted   
  33. Javaid A, Qudsia H, Khan IH, Anwar A, Ferdosi MFH. Antifungal activity of Senna occidentalis root extract against Macrophomina phaseolina and its GC-MS analysis. Pakistan Journal of Weed Science Research, (2022); 28(1): 115-122.
  34. Akpuaka A, Ekwenchi MM, Dashak DA, Dildar A. Biological activities of characterized isolates of n-hexane extract of Azadirachta indica A. Juss (Neem) leaves. Natural Sciences, (2013); 11(5): 142-145.
  35. Devi JAI, Muthu AK. Gas chromatography- mass spectrometry analysis of bioactive constituents in the ethanolic extract of Saccharum spontaneum Linn. International Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, (2014); 6: 755-759.
  36. Rizvi S, Raza ST, Ahmed F, Ahmad A, Abbas S, Mahdi F. The Role of Vitamin E in human health and some diseases. Sultan Qaboos University Medical Journal, (2014) 14(2): e157-e165.
  37. Duke, J.A. Handbook of phytochemical constituents of GRAS herbs and other economic plants. Boca Raton, FL. CRC Press (1992).
  38. Huang ZR, Lin YK, Fang JY. Biological and pharmacological activities of squalene and related compounds: potential uses in cosmetic dermatology. Molecules, (2009); 14: 540-54.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial 4.0 International License. To read the copy of this license please visit: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0

6th button-01