Today, consumers are very concerned regarding food quality, nutritional composition and positive health effects of consumed foods. In this context, the preference and consumption of organic products has been increasing worldwide. In the present work, sweet peppers in two maturation stages (i.e., green and red peppers) from organic and conventional production systems were evaluated in regards to phenolic composition and antioxidant activity. Nine phenolic compounds were identified and quantified by a high-performance liquid chromatography-diode-array detector (HPLC-DAD), namely resveratrol, meta-coumaric acid, ortho-coumaric acid, clorogenic acid, caffeic acid, myricetin, rutin, luteolin-7-O-glucoside and quercitin-3-O-rhamnoside. In contrast to the production system, the maturation stage showed a pronounced significant effect on the phenolic composition of the studied sweet peppers; in general, green peppers possessed higher contents than red ones. Meta-coumaric acid, ortho-coumaric acid and quercitin-3-O-rhamnoside were more abundant in green conventional peppers and chlorogenic acid, caffeic acid and rutin were found in higher levels in red organic peppers. Regarding the antioxidant activity, green conventional peppers showed the highest DPPH, ABTS•+ and total reducing capacities, while red conventional peppers had higher TEAC values. Finally, principal component analysis showed that the phenolic composition together with the antioxidant capacities could be used to differentiate the production system and the maturation stage of sweet peppers. This finding confirmed that both factors influenced the peppers’ phenolic composition and antioxidant capacity, allowing their possible use as maturation–production biomarkers.
- Linear discriminant analysis
- Phenolic compounds
- Production–maturation mode discrimination