It is now widely held that the antioxidants contained in fruit and vegetables can provide protection against certain human degenerative conditions that are associated with oxygen free radical damage. This view is supported by epidemiological, in vitro, and more recently, in vivo evidence. Phenolics (polyphenolics) contribute substantially to the antioxidant complement of many small fruit species whose ripe fruit are red, purple or blue in color. Fruit containing high levels of phenolic antioxidants would be attractive to health conscious consumers, therefore optimization of production and processing factors affecting small fruit antioxidant capacity is desirable. In many small fruit crops, antioxidant activity [measured as oxygen radical absorbing capacity (ORAC)] is positively correlated with their content of anthocyanins and total phenolics. Genera, species, and genotypes vary with respect to phenolic content. Both annual and geographical factors appear to influence ORAC, although many years of study are needed to distinguish these effects from other biotic and abiotic factors that influence fruit phenolic content. Antioxidant capacity due to phenolics is decreased by food processing practices, such as heat or aeration.
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