Changes in phytochemical and antioxidant activity of selected pepper cultivars (Capsicum species) as influenced by maturity

J Agric Food Chem. 2000 May;48(5):1713-20. doi: 10.1021/jf990916t.


The effect of fruit maturation on changes in carotenoids, flavonoids, total soluble reducing equivalents, phenolic acids, ascorbic acid, and antioxidant activity (AOX) in different pepper types (Capsicum annuum, Capsicum frutescens, and Capsicum chinese) was determined. Generally, the concentration of these chemical constituents increased as the peppers reached maturity. Peppers contained high levels of L-ascorbic acid and carotenoids at maturity, contributing 124-338% of the RDA for vitamin C and 0.33-336 RE/100 g of provitamin A activity, respectively. Levels of phenolic acids, capxanthin, and zeaxanthin generally increased during maturation, whereas the level of lutein declined. Flavonoid concentrations varied greatly among the pepper types analyzed and were negatively correlated to AOX under the conditions of the beta-carotene-linoleic assay. Model systems were used to aid in understanding the relationship between flavonoids and AOX. Significant increases in AOX were observed in pepper juice models in response to increasing dilution factors and the presence of EDTA, indicating a pro-oxidant effect due to metal ions in the system. In vitro models demonstrated that increasing levels of flavonoids in combination with constant levels of caffeic and ascorbic acid gave a resultant AOX that was either additive of the two compounds or competitive in their ability to scavenge peroxyl radicals. The model systems were in good agreement with the chemical composition of the pepper cultivars and reflected the interactions affecting AOX. More research is needed to understand the complex interactions that occur among various antioxidants present in pepper extracts.

MeSH terms

  • Antioxidants / analysis*
  • Ascorbic Acid / analysis*
  • Capsicum / chemistry*
  • Capsicum / growth & development
  • Carotenoids / analysis*
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid
  • Flavonoids / analysis*
  • Phenols / analysis*
  • Plants, Medicinal*


  • Antioxidants
  • Flavonoids
  • Phenols
  • Carotenoids
  • Ascorbic Acid