Essential oils derived from plants have been recognized since antiquity to possess biological activities, including antibacterial, antifungal and antioxidant properties. Antioxidant properties are important both for food preservation and for the protection of unsaturated lipids in animal and human tissues. Antimicrobial activities have been exploited intensively in recent years, mainly in respect to the extensive ban on antibiotics in the animal industries and antibiotic overuse in human medicine. With growing interest in the use of essential oils in the food, pharmaceutical and agricultural industries, a systematic examination of these extracts has become increasingly important. This review will examine recent studies on the origin, quality and quantity of essential oils in selected plant species, the use of essential oils as antioxidants in food products, improving the stability of fats and oils rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids, and the search for cheap and effective antimicrobial agents for the livestock industries.
- Aromatic and medicinal plants