Sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas
L.) leaf is a natural source of phenolic compounds with strong antioxidant activity and potential utility as an antioxidant. The aim of this study was to evaluate the polyphenol composition and antioxidant activities of ethanol extracts and their various solvent-partitioned fractions (petroleum ether, ethyl acetate, and aqueous fraction) from sweet potato leaves and petioles. Seven caffeoylquinic acid (CQA) derivatives and four flavonoids were detected in sweet potato leaves by HPLC-ESI-MS. The total phenolic content (TPC) and total flavonoid content (TFC) in leaf (112.98 ± 4.14 mg gallic acid equivalent (GAE)/g of dried extract, 56.87 ± 5.69 mg rutin equivalent (RE)/g of dried extract) was more than ten times higher than in petiole (9.22 ± 2.67 mg GAE/g of dried extract, 3.81 ± 0.52 mg RE/g of dried extract). The antioxidant contents of ethyl acetate fractions increased dramatically relative to those of crude extracts for both leaves and petioles. Purification using solvent partition with ethyl acetate increased TPC and TFC of crude extracts, especially the CQA derivatives including 3,4-dicaffeoylquinic acid, 3,5-dicaffeoylquinic acid, 4,5-dicaffeoylquinic acid, and 3,4,5-tricaffeoylquinic acid. Meanwhile, the ethyl acetate fractions with the highest CQA content were associated with the highest scavenging activities towards 2,2-diphenyl-1-picrylhydrazyl (DPPH) and higher ferric ion reducing antioxidant power (FRAP)-reducing power.
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