Molecules of the Week

Carnosic Acid and Rosmarinic Acid

May 12, 2014

Carnosic acid (top two images) is a diterpene with an abietane skeleton; rosmarinic acid (bottom two) is a caffeic acid ester. Both are found in the rosemary plant (Rosmarinus officinalis), each also occurs in other plants.

But carnosic and rosmarinic acids have something else in common: They are meat preservatives. Rosemary extract was originally added to meat as a flavoring agent, but people noticed that it kept meat from spoiling. It was later discovered that the acids inhibit the free-radical reaction that oxidizes fats and oils and causes spoilage. Neither acid is responsible for the rosemary flavor.

More about these molecules from CAS, the most authoritative and comprehensive source for chemical information.

3d renderings of the Molecules of the Week: Carnosic Acid and Rosmarinic Acid