BACKGROUND: Small dark fruits represent one of the most important sources of bioactive compounds with antioxidant capacity in the human diet. The content of health-promoting antioxidants in these fruits may be important information to take into account when a fruit producer has to choose which cultivar to grow.
OBJECTIVE: It is important to know how antioxidant capacity and antioxidant compounds as total phenolics and ascorbic acid vary between 9 small dark fruit species and for each species among cultivars (2 to 10 per species).
METHODS: The antioxidant capacity (ORAC assay), total phenolic (Folin-Ciocalteu) and ascorbic acid content were measured in 9 fruits (plums, blackcurrants, blackberries, blueberries, cherries, redcurrants, raspberries, white currants and gooseberries) / 42 cultivars harvested at maturity during their high production period.
RESULTS: The comparison of the average of the various cultivars of each small fruits showed that blackcurrants had the best antioxidant capacity (with plums), the highest ascorbic acid content and the highest total phenolic content (with blackberries). The present study shows that total phenolic compounds, ascorbic acid and antioxidant capacity strongly differed between genotypes of each small dark fruits. Other parameters as harvest time, culture conditions and maturity degree at the harvest may also influence the antioxidant capacity of small fruits.
CONCLUSIONS: Among small dark fruits, blackcurrants have high qualities. Choices of variety, harvest time and maturity degree are important for all fruits.