Phenolics, Sugars, Antimicrobial and Free-Radical-Scavenging Activities of Melicoccus bijugatus Jacq. Fruits from the Dominican Republic and Florida

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Edible fruits of the native South American tree Melicoccus bijugatus Jacq. are consumed fresh or in traditional food, drink and medicinal preparations. Some therapeutic effects of these fruits may be due to phenolics and sugars. Aqueous acetone, methanol or ethanol tissue extracts of different cultivars or collections of M. bijugatus fruits from the Dominican Republic and Florida were analyzed for total phenolics and free radical scavenging activity by UV-vis spectroscopy, sugars by gas chromatography, and antimicrobial activity by the disc diffusion assay. Total phenolics and free radical scavenging activities ranked: seed coat > embryo > pulp extracts. Montgomery cultivar fruits had the highest total phenolics. For sugars: pulp > embryo and highest in Punta Cana fruit pulp. In all extracts: sucrose > glucose and fructose. Glucose:fructose ratios were 1:1 (pulp) and 0.2:1 (embryo). Pulp extracts had dose-response antibacterial activity and pulp and embryo extracts had antifungal activity against one yeast species. Phenolics and sugars were confirmed with thin-layer chromatography and nuclear magnetic resonance. Sugar-free pulp fractions containing phenolics had slightly more antimicrobial activity than H2O-soluble pulp fractions with sugars. Results indicate M. bijugatus fruits contain phenolics, sugars and other H2O-soluble compounds consistent with therapeutic uses.

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