Journal of Food Measurement and Characterization

, Volume 13, Issue 3, pp 2347–2356 | Cite as

Cactus pear antioxidants: a comparison between fruit pulp, fruit peel, fruit seeds and cladodes of eight different cactus pear cultivars (Opuntia ficus-indica and Opuntia robusta)

  • Maryna de WitEmail author
  • Alba du Toit
  • Gernot Osthoff
  • Arno Hugo
Original Paper


The cactus pear plant is an under-valued food source with health-promoting properties that thrives in arid and semi-arid regions due to its efficient use of water. Eight South African cultivars from two Opuntia species were investigated for their antioxidant content and potential. The fresh fruit (pulp), peel, seeds and cladodes of each cultivar were compared in the study. Analysis included betalains, ascorbic acid, phenolics and carotenoids. The activity of the antioxidants were determined by using the DPPH method and by measuring the chelating activity of ferrous ions. When % DPPH was tested, peel and cladodes were consistently the highest, while in the % chelating activity tests, fruit pulp and seeds were the best tissue types. Cladodes contained more phenolics and carotenes than fruit regardless of the cultivar. For pulp and peel, the cultivar that contained the highest antioxidant content and potential was Robusta with its high content of betalains followed by Gymno-Carpo and Ofer with high ascorbic acid levels. The study proves that the fruit (pulp), peel and seeds from different cultivars contain specific antioxidants relating to the colour of the fruit, but the cladodes of any cultivar contain similar and highly effective antioxidants.


Ascorbic acid Betalains Carotenes Chelating activity DPPH Phenolics 



The authors would like to thank Dr. H. J. Fouché from the ARC for providing the cactus pear fruit. This study is supported by the University of the Free State (UFS) Strategic Academic Cluster 4 for funding.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest be it academic, personal political or financial.

Research involving human and/or animal participants

No humans or animals took part in this study.

Informed consent

All the authors participated/contributed to this study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Microbial, Biochemical and Food Biotechnology, Faculty of Natural and Agricultural SciencesUniversity of the Free StateBloemfonteinSouth Africa
  2. 2.Department of Consumer Science, Faculty of Natural and Agricultural SciencesUniversity of the Free StateBloemfonteinSouth Africa

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