Tacinga inamoena (K. Schum.) [N. P. Taylor & Stuppy] is a native Cactaceae from the semiarid region of Northeastern Brazil whose fruit is eaten by the local population. It seems that there is a significant amount of functional compounds such as polyphenols and betalains in this fruit as reported for other well-known cacti. Although there are not enough studies that have been conducted, it has attracted interest regarding nutritional and functional viewpoints. In this sense, changes in bioactive compounds during maturation need to be evaluated as this fruit faces very unstable conditions during its development, which can lead to drastic changes of the constituents in the pulp and peel. Thus, the objective of this study was to evaluate the content of bioactive compounds and antioxidant activity during the maturation of Tacinga inamoena fruit from fruit bearing plants grown under Brazilian semiarid conditions. The contents of total chlorophyll declined parallel to an increase of the total carotenoids, yellow flavonoids, and betalains. However, a sharp difference between the content of these pigments in the peel and pulp was observed which characterized the main changes during fruit maturation. This fruit presented considerable carotenoid content, reaching 348 μg/100 g in the peel and 29 μg/100 g in the pulp when fully ripe. Total antioxidant activity (TAA) was higher in the pulp of more mature fruit. TAA was correlated with the bioactive compounds, with the exception of betacyanins, which were betalains present in smaller amounts in this fruit.
Key words: Cactaceae, quipá, carotenoids, polyphenols, betalains, antioxidant activity.
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