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Comparison of polyphenol, methylxanthines and antioxidant activity in Theobroma cacao beans from different cocoa-growing areas in Colombia

Carrillo, Luis C., Londoño-Londoño, Julián, Gil, Andrés
Food research international 2014 v.60 pp. 273-280
Theobroma cacao, altitude, antioxidant activity, caffeine, catechin, cocoa beans, crops, epicatechin, farms, polyphenols, principal component analysis, theobromine, Colombia
The aims of the current work were to study the influence of geographical areas on polyphenol and methylxanthine contents and the antioxidant activity in cocoa beans from different cocoa-growing areas of Colombia, and to evaluate the possibility of establishing a classification based on the geographical areas of the cocoa-growing regions. Eighteen cocoa farms located in eleven cocoa-growing areas were analyzed. The statistical analysis showed significant differences (p<0.05) in total polyphenol content (TPC), flavan-3-ol, epicatechin, catechin, caffeine and theobromine contents as well as the theobromine/caffeine ratio and the antioxidant capacity between some of the different sampled farms, showing a significant effect of the cocoa-producing region on these parameters. Generally, a proportional relationship has been proposed to exist between the polyphenol content with changes in altitude of plant crops, despite this, our results suggest that the lower the altitude, the more polyphenols, flavan-3-ols and epicatechin are produced by the cocoa plant. Results of the principal component analysis (PCA) indicate that caffeine content and the theobromine/caffeine ratio could serve as parameters to establish a cocoa bean classification according to the geographical area of the cocoa-growing regions.