Evolution of phytochemical and antioxidant activity of Tunisian carob (Ceratonia siliqua L.) pods during maturation

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The Ceratonia siliqua fruits contain several substances known to have high adaptability to environmental conditions. The aim of this paper is to evaluate the changes in physicochemical properties of different Tunisian provenances of carob pulps harvested at three ripening stages. Furthermore, six provenances were investigated during the ripening process in terms of their moisture, ash, minerals, bioactive compounds, antiradical activity and sugar profile. The results demonstrated that all examined parameters are highly influenced by geographic origin. Concerning ripening impact, our data showed that water and ash content significantly decreased during the development of six provenances, as well as the bioactive and mineral contents. Thus, the total polyphenols (TP), total flavonoids (TF) and condensed tannins (CT) contents exhibited the highest levels in the unripe fruits. The antiradical activity trend was positively correlated to the behavior of the bioactive compounds content. Moreover, the sucrose, glucose and fructose were the main sugar qualified and quantified in carob pods at different ripening stages. At the maturity stage, the monosaccharide contents (glucose and fructose) were slightly reduced, while, the sucrose was rapidly accumulated. In conclusion, the ripening process diversely affected the nutritional composition and generally extended the exploitation of carob fruits. The study could provide valuable information about the suitability of carob pods at different maturity stages as potential biomaterials for nutraceutical applications.

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