Peel, pulp and seed extracts of three mandarin varieties, namely Phlegraean mandarin (Citrus reticulata
), Kumquat (Citrus japonica
), and Clementine (Citrus clementina
) were compared and characterised in terms of photosynthetic pigment content, total polyphenols amount, antioxidant activity and vitamin C to assess the amount of functional compounds for each cultivar. The highest polyphenols content was found in the Phlegraean mandarin, especially in peel and seeds, whereas Kumquat exhibited the highest polyphenols amount in the pulp. The antioxidant activity was higher in the peel of Phlegraean mandarin and clementine compared to Kumquat, which showed the highest value in the pulp. The antioxidant activity peaked in the seeds of Phlegraean mandarin. The vitamin C in the Phlegraean mandarin was the highest in all parts of the fruit, especially in the seeds. Total chlorophyll content was comparable in the peel of different cultivars, in the pulp the highest amount was found in clementine, whereas kumquat seeds showed the greatest values. As regards total carotenoids, peel and pulp of clementine exhibited higher values than the other two cultivars, whereas the kumquat seeds were the richest in carotenoids. Among the analysed cultivars Phlegraean mandarin may be considered the most promising as a source of polyphenols and antioxidants, compared to the clementine and Kumquat, especially for the functional molecules found in the seeds. Moreover, regardless of cultivars this study also highlights important properties in the parts of the fruit generally considered wastes.
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