Total Phenolic and Flavonoid Contents of Organically and Conventionally Grown Lettuce, Collards and Chinese Cabbage

in HortScience

Organic vegetables have been suggested to produce higher levels of phytochmemicals, which play active roles in disease prevention. We measured total phenolic and aglycone flavonoid (apigenin, kaempferol, luteolin, and quercetin) contents in leaves of organically- and conventionally-grown lettuce (`Kalura' and `Red Sails'), collards (`Top Bunch') and Pak Choi (`Mei Qing') greens during spring and summer trials, using the Folin assay and HPLC, respectively. Postharvest changes in phenolic contents of organic and conventional lettuce were also investigated after 17-day storage at 4 °C. Production system did not cause a significant difference in total phenolic levels of lettuce and collards in either trial, but total phenolics were significantly higher in organic Pak Choi in the summer trial, possibly due to greater flea beetle damage in the organic plots. Organic production did not affect the aglycone flavonoid levels of lettuce and collards in the spring trial except that apigenin increased in organic samples. In the summer trial, however, concentrations of kaempferol, luteolin and quercetin tended to increase in organic lettuce and collards; only luteolin showed promising increase in Pak Choi. Species and cultivars both had significant effects on total phenolic and flavonoid contents. After 17-day storage, total phenolic content significantly increased in both organic and conventional lettuce although the concentrations of aglycone flavonoids remained relatively constant. Total phenolic content was higher in organic `Red Sails' at a marginal significance level after storage, while it did not differ between organic and conventional `Kalura'. We noted a dominant presence of glycoside flavonoids in lettuce before and after storage, which warrants further study.

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