The β-carotene and total carotenoid content of different Capsicum fruit types and species were analyzed using HPLC. This information is useful for breeding high carotenoid chiles (New Mexican type) for the food industry, and also provides nutritional data for the range of fruit types within the Capsicum genus. Fresh fruit from 25 accessions and dried fruit from 39 accessions were evaluated in 1996 and 1997. β-carotene levels varied from 0 to 16.6 mg/100 g fresh weight, and carotenoid levels were from 0.1 to 89.6 mg/100 g in red ripe fruit in 1996. The range of values for β-carotene was similar in 1997, but a wider range in total carotenoids (0.4 to 117.3 mg/100 g fresh weight) was observed. Fresh fruit (100 g) of the cultivars `Greenleaf Tabasco', `Pulla', `Guajillo', `NuMex Conquistador', `Ring-O-Fire', and `Thai Dragon' contained greater amounts of β-carotene than the RDA for vitamin A for the average adult. For dried Capsicum entries, New Mexican, aji, pasilla, ancho, and guajillo types had the highest levels of β-carotene. In 1996, β-carotene levels among the dried Capsicum germplasm ranged from 0 to 739.2 μg/g dry weight, and carotenoid levels were from 21.3 to 6,225.9 μg/g. Values were higher in 1997, and ranged from 23.7 to 1,198.1 μg/g dry weight for β-carotene and from 76.9 to 10,120.6 μg/g for total carotenoids. A pasilla type (C. annuum) had the highest total carotenoid content among the dried entries in both years.
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