The Balanophoraceae Ombrophytum subterraneum is an endemic highland food plant occurring in Bolivia, northern Argentina and Chile. The upper part of this parasitic plant is eaten fresh. The aim of this work was to characterize the compounds occurring in the edible part and to assess any differences between the inflorescence and tuber. Ethanol extracts of the different plant parts were analyzed for antioxidant activity by the ORAC, TEAC, FRAP, CUPRAC and DPPH methods as well as for the effect on enzymes related to metabolic syndrome (α-amylase, α-glucosidase and pancreatic lipase). The main constituents were isolated by a combination of gel permeation in Sephadex LH-20 and countercurrent chromatography (CCC). Five compounds were isolated and fully identified by spectroscopic and spectrometric means. The new 3′,5,5′,7-tetrahydroxyflavanone 7-O-β-D-1 → 6 diglucoside was isolated for the first time. HPLC-ESI-MS/MS analysis allowed the identification of 19 compounds, including flavanones, flavanols, flavonols, dehydroflavonols and lignans, mainly as glycosides. A strong inhibition towards α-glucosidase was observed for the edible parts (IC50: 1.46 µg/mL) as well as for the tuber and inflorescence (IC50: 1.56 µg/mL and 0.87 µg/mL, respectively). A significant correlation was established between the total phenolic and the antioxidant capacity of the extracts as well as with the content of the new flavanone diglucoside. This is the first comprehensive report on the naturally occurring antioxidants and enzyme inhibitors from this native highland food resource.
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