Goji berries and derived products represent a relevant source of micronutrients, most of which are natural antioxidants and contribute to the high nutritional quality of these fruits. Three brands of dried goji berries have been analysed by a multidisciplinary approach to get an insight into both their content of selected antioxidants and their antioxidant capacity (AC).
The former goal has been achieved by developing a liquid chromatographic method coupled to mass spectrometry and combined to a fast solid phase extraction. Several significant representative antioxidant compounds belonging to the following classes: flavonoids, flavan-3-ols, phenolic acids, amino acids and derivatives, and carotenoids have been taken into account. Quercetin and rutin were found to be the predominant flavonoids, chlorogenic acid was the most abundant phenolic acid and zeaxanthin was the major carotenoid.
The AC of the goji berries has been evaluated by four analytical methods in order to estimate the contributions of different reactions involved in radicals scavenging. In particular, AC has been determined using 3 standardised methods (DPPH, ABTS, ORAC) and a recently proposed electrochemical method, which measures the scavenging activity of antioxidants towards OH radicals generated both by hydrogen peroxide photolysis and the Fenton reaction.
The results obtained from chemical composition and antioxidant capacity assays confirm the high nutritional and commercial value of goji berries and highlight that the three brands do not exhibit significant differences.