Brassica vegetables, such as cabbage, have many health benefits arising from their antioxidant and anticancer properties. These properties are endowed by the metabolite composition of the plant, and it is therefore important to elucidate the metabolic profile and associated activities in this genus. This study objectively evaluated the characteristics of cabbage varieties using metabolic profiling to identify the primary metabolic components that correlate with antioxidant activity and taste attributes. GC-MS analysis was used to identify the primary metabolites. Antioxidant activity was measured by oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC) and 2,2-diphenyl-1-picrylhydrazyl radical (DPPH) scavenging assays, and an electronic tongue was used to quantitate nine taste attributes. Orthogonal projections to latent structures (OPLS) using SIMCA 14 correlated the metabolite components with the taste and antioxidant characteristics. We identified 4-aminobutyric acid, fructose 1-phosphate, adipic acid, 5-oxoproline, N-acetylglycine, O-phosphoethanolamine, and homovanillic acid as important determinants of DPPH scavenging activity and umami, sourness, acidic bitterness, irritant and saltiness, bitterness, astringency, and richness, respectively. These metabolites represent markers indicating breed differences and contribute to differential cabbage functionality. These studies could be extended to measure additional metabolites, as well as to understand the role of growth conditions on the metabolic profile and health benefits of plants.
Keywords: DPPH; GC-MS; OPLS; ORAC; cabbage; electronic tongue; metabolomics.