Blueberries production has increased in the last few years boosted somehow by the World Health Organization (WHO) recommendations for a healthier nutrition and their recognized potential to treat several diseases. The production increase lead to high amounts of discarded leaves that could be very valuable. In this context, the antioxidant activity of Vaccinium
spp. leaves, by means of the total phenolic (TPC) and flavonoid (TFC) content and total antioxidant capacity (TAC) was determined. Adult leaves of twenty-seven Vaccinium
cultivars collected in three geographic regions and three seasons of the year were included. The antioxidant activity was additionally estimated with near infrared (NIR) spectroscopy and data transferability across the regions and seasons was evaluated. The TPC, TFC and TAC ranged from 39.6–272.8 mg gallic acid, 41.2–269.1 mg catechin and 22.6–124.8 mM Trolox per g of dry leaf, respectively. Globally through the seasons, the higher values of the three parameters were obtained in December. Regarding the geographic region, region A provided the cultivars with the higher antioxidant content. Titan was the cultivar with higher TPC and TAC and Misty the one with the higher TFC. NIR spectroscopy combined with the partial least squares analysis was able to successfully predict the antioxidant activity with coefficients of determination and range error ratios ranging from 0.84–0.99 and 11.2–26.8. Despite some identified limitations on data transferability, NIR spectroscopy proved to be a reliable, low cost and quick method to predict the antioxidant activity of the considered cultivar leaves.
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