Cactus pear fruit is a valuable source of antioxidants and could be an important functional ingredient in foods. Cultivars differ in fruit colour, which may indicate the presence of specific antioxidants. There is increased interest for cactus pear-derived products due to their potential nutraceutical effects, and determining antioxidant potential in processed foods is an important measure to ascertain the quality of a processed product. The aim of the study was to determine the relationship of fruit processing method and colour with antioxidant content and activity in fresh and processed cactus pear fruit. Antioxidant components (ascorbic acid, phenolic compounds, carotenes and betalains) and antioxidant activity (radical scavenging activity towards 2,2′-diphenyl-1-picrylhydrazyl and iron chelating capacity) were determined in fresh and processed (juiced, dried, preserved and chutney) fruits from four different coloured cultivars (purple, green, orange and pink). The highest antioxidant content and potential was found in purple (O. robusta cv Robusta) fruit products, attributed to the highest levels of betalains (1140.4 mg kg−1). Orange fruit (O. ficus-indica) products had the second highest levels, attributed to ascorbic acid and phenolics. Betalains were highly retained in all processed products, while ascorbic acid was mostly retained in the processed products that involved minimal heat treatment. Carotene and phenolic compounds became more available for extraction during processing and showed higher levels after processing. Principal component analysis makes it possible to identify fruit colours of fresh and processed products, which were mostly associated with a specific antioxidant. In the PCA biplot, PC1 (47.93%) and PC2 (21.93%) explained 69.15% of the total variation: a processing method rather than colour-correlated products in terms of antioxidant content and potential. PCA indicated that fresh purple fruit was correlated with chelating activity and betalains, while orange fruit was clustered with phenolics, ascorbic acid, carotene and DPPH. For the processed fruit products, most were clustered together with chelating activity, DPPH and the antioxidants. Orange and pink dried products had high ascorbic acid, phenolics, carotene and DPPH values, while dried and fresh purple fruit had high betalain content and chelating activity.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Albano, C., Negro, C., Tommasi, N., Gerardi, C., Mita, G., Miceli, A., De Bellis, L., & Blando, F. (2015). Betalains, phenols and antioxidant capacity in cactus pear [Opuntia ficus-indica (L.) Mill.] fruits from Apulia (South Italy) genotypes. Antioxidants, 4, 269–280.
Borges, G., Mullen, W., & Crozier, A. (2010). Comparison of the polyphenolic composition and antioxidant activity of European commercial fruit juices. Food Function, 1, 73–83.
Castellanos-Santiago, E., & Yahia, E. (2008). Identification and quantification of betalains from the fruits of 10 Mexican prickly pear cultivars by high-performance liquid chromatography and electrospray ionization mass spectrometry. Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry, 56(14), 5758–5764.
Chavez-Santoscoy, R. A., Gutierrez-Uribe, J. A., & Serna-Saldívar, S. O. (2009). Phenolic composition, antioxidant capacity and in vitro cancer cell cytotoxicity of nine prickly pear (Opuntia spp.) juices. Plant Foods for Human Nutrition, 64(2), 146–152.
Coria Cayupán, Y. S., Ochoa, M. J., & Nazareno, M. A. (2011). Health-promoting substances and antioxidant properties of Opuntia sp. fruits. Changes in bioactive-compound contents during ripening process. Food Chemistry, 126(2), 514–519.
Costa, A., Nunes, M., Almeida, I., Carvalho, M., Barroso, M., & Alves, R. (2012). Teas, dietary supplements and fruit juices: a comparative study regarding antioxidant activity and bioactive compounds. LWT - Food Science and Technology, 49(2), 324–328.
Crossa, J. (1990). Statistical analysis of multi-locational trials. Advanced Agronomy., 44, 55–85.
De Wit, M., Nel, P., Osthoff, G., & Labuschagne, M. T. (2010). The effect of variety and location on cactus pear (Opuntia ficus-indica) fruit quality. Plant Foods for Human Nutrition, 65(2), 136–145.
Du Toit, A., De Wit, M., Osthoff, G., & Hugo, A. (2015). Antioxidant content and capacity of fruit from different colour cactus pear (O. ficus-indica and O. Robusta) cultivars. Acta Horticulturae, 1067, 187–192.
Felker, P., Stintzing, F. C., Müssig, E., Leitenberger, M., Carle, R., & Vogt, T. (2008). Colour inheritance in cactus pear (Opuntia ficus-indica) fruits. Annals of Applied Biology, 152(3), 307–318.
Fernández-López, J. A., Almela, L., Obón, J. M., & Castellar, R. (2010). Determination of antioxidant constituents in cactus pear fruits. Plant Foods for Human Nutrition, 65(3), 253–259.
Food Preservation. (1986). Volksraad Departement van Onderwys en Kultuur Administrasie. Pretoria: Voedselpreservering. Staatsdrukker.
Gil, M. I., Tomás-Barberán, F. A., Hess-Pierce, B., Holcroft, D. M., & Kader, A. A. (2000). Antioxidant activity of pomegranate juice and its relationship with phenolic composition and processing. Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry, 48(10), 4581–4589.
Gülçin, İ. (2012). Antioxidant activity of food constituents: an overview. Archives of Toxicology, 86(3), 345–391.
Gülçin, I., Elmastas, M., & Aboul-Enein, H. Y. (2007). Determination of antioxidant and radical scavenging activity of basil (Ocimum basilicum L. Family Lamiaceae) assayed by different methodologies. Phyther Research, 21(4), 354–361.
Gurrieri, S., Miceli, L., Lanza, C. M., Tomaselli, F., Bonomo, R. P., & Rizzarelli, E. (2000). Chemical characterization of Sicilian prickly pear (Opuntia ficus indica) and perspectives for the storage of its juice. Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry, 48(11), 5424–5431.
Guzmán-Maldonado, S. H., Herrera-Hernández, G., Hernández-López, D., Reynoso-Camacho, R., Guzmán-Tovar, A., Vailant, F., & Brat, P. (2010). Physicochemical, nutritional and functional characteristics of two underutilised fruit cactus species (Myrtillocactus) produced in central Mexico. Food Chemistry, 121(2), 381–386.
Herken, E. N., & Guzel, S. (2010). Total antioxidant capacity and total phenol contents of selected commercial fruit juices in Turkey. International Journal of Food Properties, 13(6), 1373–1379.
Howard, L. A., Wong, A. D., Perry, A. K., & Klein, B. P. (1999). β-Carotene and ascorbic acid retention in fresh and processed vegetables. Journal of Food Science, 64(5), 929–936.
James, C.S. (1995).Analytical Chemistry of Food http://www.cabdirect.org (1995). [22 Nov2013].
Joubert, E. (1993). Processing of the fruit of five prickly pear cultivars grown in South Africa. International Journal of Food Science and Technology, 28, 377–387.
Kuti, J. O. (2004). Antioxidant compounds from four Opuntia cactus pear fruit varieties. Food Chemistry, 85(4), 527–533.
Livrea, M. A., & Tesoriere, L. (2006). Health benefits and bioactive components of the fruits from Opuntia ficus-indica [L.] Mill. Journal of the Professional Association for Cactus Development, 8, 73–90.
Meilgaard, M., Civille, G. V., & Carr, B. T. (2007). Sensory evaluation techniques (4th ed.). London: CRC Press.
Morales, F. J., & Jiménez-Pérez, S. (2001). Free radical scavenging capacity of Maillard reaction products as related to colour and fluorescence. Food Chemistry, 72(1), 119–125.
Moreno-Alvarez, D. A., García-Viguera, C., Gil, J. I., & Gil-Izquierdo, A. (2008). Betalains in the era of global agri-food science, technology and nutritional health. Phytochemistry Reviews, 7(2), 261–280.
Mosshammer, M. R., Stintzing, F. C., & Carle, R. (2006). Impact of thermal treatment and storage on color of yellow-orange cactus pear (Opuntia ficus-indica [L.] Mill. cv. ‘Gialla’) juices. Journal of Food Science, 71, 400–406.
Moussa-Ayoub, T. E., El-Samahy, S. K., Rohn, S., & Kroh, L. W. (2011). Flavonols, betacyanins content and antioxidant activity of cactus Opuntia macrorhiza fruits. Food Research International, 44(7), 2169–2174.
Moussa-Ayoub, T. E., Abd El-Hady, E.-S. A., Omran, H. T., El-Samahy, S. K., Kroh, L. W., & Rohn, S. (2014). Influence of cultivar and origin on the flavonol profile of fruits and cladodes from cactus Opuntia ficus-indica. Food Research International, 64, 864–872.
NCCS 11 Statistical Software. (2016).NCSS, LLC. Kaysville, Utah, USA, ncss.com/software/ncss.
Ouchemoukh, S., Hachoud, S., Boudraham, H., Mokrani, A., & Louaileche, H. (2012). Antioxidant activities of some dried fruits consumed in Algeria. LWT-Food Science and Technology, 49(2), 329–332.
Pérez-Loredo, M. G., García-Ochoa, F., & Barragán-Huerta, B. E. (2016). Comparative analysis of betalain content in Stenocereus stellatus fruits and other cactus fruits using principal component analysis. International Journal of Food Properties, 19(2), 326–338.
Piga, A., Del Caro, A., Pinna, I., & Agabbio, M. (2003). Changes in ascorbic acid, polyphenol content and antioxidant activity in minimally processed cactus pear fruits. LWT - Food Science and Technology, 36(2), 257–262.
Rickman, J. C., Barrett, D. M., & Bruhn, C. M. (2007a). Review: Nutritional comparison of fresh, frozen and canned fruits and vegetables I. Vitamins C and B and phenolic compounds. Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, 87, 930–944.
Rickman, J. C., Bruhn, C. M., & Barrett, D. M. (2007b). Nutritional comparison of fresh, frozen and canned fruits and vegetables II. Vitamin A and carotenoids, vitamin E, minerals and fiber. Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, 87(7), 1185–1196.
Sacchetti, G., Cocci, E., Pinnavaia, G., Mastrocola, D., & Rosa, M. D. (2008). Influence of processing and storage on the antioxidant activity of apple derivatives. International Journal of Food Science and Technology, 43(5), 797–804.
Sáenz, C., Estévez, A. M., Fontanot, M., & Pak, N. (2000). Oatmeal cookies enriched with cactus pear flour as dietary fiber source: physical and chemical characteristics. Acta Horticulturae, 581, 275–278.
Stahl, W., & Sies, H. (2003). Antioxidant activity of carotenoids. Molecular Aspects of Medicine, 24(6), 345–351.
Stintzing, F. C., Herbach, K. M., Mosshamer, M. R., Carle, R., Sellapan, S., & Akoh, C. C. (2005). Color, betalain pattern, and antioxidant properties of cactus pear (Opuntia spp.) clones. Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry, 53(2), 442–452.
Sumaya-Martínez, M. T., Cruz-Jaime, S., Madrigal-Santillán, E., García-Paredes, J. D., Cariño-Cortés, R., & Cruz-Cansino, N. (2011). Betalain, acid ascorbic, phenolic contents and antioxidant properties of purple, red, yellow and white cactus pears. International Journal of Molecular Science, 12(10), 6452–6468.
Tesoriere, L., Allegra, M., Gentile, C., & Livrea, M. A. (2009). Betacyanins as phenol antioxidants. Chemistry and mechanistic aspects of the lipoperoxyl radical-scavenging activity in solution and liposomes. Free Radical Research, 43(8), 706–717.
Tesoriere, L., Butera, D., Pintaudi, A. M., Allegra, M., & Livrea, M. A. (2004). Supplementation with cactus pear (Opuntia ficus-indica) fruit decreases oxidative stress in healthy humans: a comparative study with vitamin C. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 80(2), 391–395.
Tesoriere, L., Fazzari, M., Allegra, M., & Livrea, M. A. (2005). Biothiols, taurine and lipid-soluble antioxidants in the edible pulp of Sicilian cactus pear (Opuntia ficus-indica) fruits and changes of bioactive juice components upon industrial processing. Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry, 53(20), 7851–7855.
Vinson, J. A., Zubik, L., Bose, P., Samman, N., & Proch, J. (2005). Dried fruits: excellent in vitro and in vivo antioxidants. Journal of American Collateral Nutrition, 24(1), 44–50.
Yahia, E. M., & Mondragon-Jacobo, C. (2011). Nutritional components and anti-oxidant capacity of ten cultivars and lines of cactus pear fruit (Opuntia spp.). Food Research International, 44(7), 2311–2318.
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 UFS Strategic Academic Cluster 4 for funding.
Conflict of Interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
Rights and permissions
About this article
Cite this article
du Toit, A., de Wit, M., Osthoff, G. et al. Relationship and correlation between antioxidant content and capacity, processing method and fruit colour of cactus pear fruit. Food Bioprocess Technol 11, 1527–1535 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11947-018-2120-7
- Opuntia ficus-indica
- Opuntia robusta
- Prickly pear
- Ascorbic acid
- Phenolic compounds
- Chelating activity
- Radical scavenging