Variation in the Carotenoid Composition of the Lycopene-Rich Brazilian Fruit Eugenia uniflora L.

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The indigenous pitanga (Eugenia uniflora L.) is now marketed and commercially processed in Brazil. In the present work, the carotenoids of the pitanga fruit from two states and at two stages of ripening, as well as of processed pitanga products (frozen pulp and juice, the brands being designated as A, B and C) commercialized in Campinas, São Paulo, were determined by HPLC. As compared to ripe pitanga from Medianeira, Paraná, those from Campinas had significantly higher (all-E)-lycopene (14.0 vs. 71.1 μg/g), (13Z)-lycopene (1.1 vs. 5.0 μg/g) and (all-E)-γ-carotene (1.6 vs. 3.8 μg/g) levels. Significant increases in most of the carotenoids occurred from the partially ripe to the ripe fruits, with (all-E)-lycopene doubling its concentration in fruits from both states. Pitanga was found to be one of the richest fruit sources of carotenoids, particularly lycopene, but the processed products had much lower lycopene content. The mean (all-E)-lycopene concentration was 16.6 μg/g for frozen pulp brand A, 23.0 μg/g for bottled juice brand B and 25.6 μg/g for bottled juice brand C. Optimization of processing is therefore needed to guarantee better retention of this important carotenoid.

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