Phenolic acids are one of several classes of naturally occurring antioxidant compounds found in sweetpotato. Simplified but reliable methodologies were developed to quantitate total and individual phenolic acids in sweetpotato roots. Total phenolic acid content was measured using both Folin-Denis and Folin-Ciocalteu reagents. The Folin-Ciocalteu reagent gave an overestimation of total phenolic acids due to the absorbance of interfering compounds (i.e., reducing sugars and ascorbic acid). The average total phenolic acid content in `Beauregard' sweetpotatoes was 60.9 mg/100 g fresh weight. Individual phenolic acids were separated with two reversed-phase C18 columns of different dimensions and particle size. The columns tested were a 7 × 53 mm, 3 μm, Alltima Rocket (Alltech Assoc.) and a 3.9 × 150mm, 4 μm, Nova-Pak (Waters Corp.). Different mobile phases were also evaluated. The Alltima C18 column using a mobile phase of 1% (v/v) formic acid aqueous solution: acetonitrile: 2-propanol, pH 2.5 (70:22:8) provided the best separation of individual phenolic acids. Total analysis time was less than 5 minutes. Chlorogenic acid was the major phenolic acid found in sweetpotato root tissue (15.8 mg/100 g fresh weight). In a comparison of different tissue preparation states (fresh, frozen, freeze-dried), fresh tissue gave the highest concentration of total and individual phenolic acids. Among the 3 extraction solvents tested (80% methanol, 80% ethanol, and 80% acetone), 80% methanol and 80% ethanol gave higher, but similar, phenolic acid extraction efficiency.
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