Antioxidant and anticancer potentials of edible flowers: where do we stand?

Sajad Fakhri, Merve Tomas, Esra Capanoglu, Yaseen Hussain, Fatemeh Abbaszadeh, Baiyi Lu, Xiaolan Hu, Jianlin Wu, Liang Zou, Antonella Smeriglio, Jesus Simal-Gandara, Hui Cao, Jianbo Xiao*, Haroon Khan*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


Edible flowers are attracting special therapeutic attention and their administration is on the rise. Edible flowers play pivotal modulatory roles on oxidative stress and related interconnected apoptotic/inflammatory pathways toward the treatment of cancer. In this review, we highlighted the phytochemical content and therapeutic applications of edible flowers, as well as their modulatory potential on the oxidative stress pathways and apoptotic/inflammatory mediators, resulting in anticancer effects. Edible flowers are promising sources of phytochemicals (e.g., phenolic compounds, carotenoids, terpenoids) with several therapeutic effects. They possess anti-inflammatory, anti-diabetic, anti-microbial, anti-depressant, anxiolytic, anti-obesity, cardioprotective, and neuroprotective effects. Edible flowers potentially modulate oxidative stress by targeting erythroid nuclear transcription factor-2/extracellular signal-regulated kinase/mitogen-activated protein kinase (Nrf2/ERK/MAPK), reactive oxygen species (ROS), nitric oxide (NO), malondialdehyde (MDA) and antioxidant response elements (AREs). As the interconnected pathways to oxidative stress, inflammatory mediators, including tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α, nuclear factor kappa-light-chain-enhancer of activated B cells (NF-κB), interleukins (ILs) as well as apoptotic pathways such as Bcl-2-associated X protein (Bax), Bcl-2, caspase and cytochrome C are critical targets of edible flowers in combating cancer. In this regard, edible flowers could play promising anticancer effects by targeting oxidative stress and downstream dysregulated pathways.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8589-8645
Number of pages57
JournalCritical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition
Issue number31
Publication statusPublished - 2022

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  • Apoptosis
  • cancer
  • edible flowers
  • inflammation
  • oxidative stress
  • pharmacology
  • signaling pathway
  • therapeutic targets


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