Variation in the content of glucosinolates, hydroxycinnamic acids, carotenoids, total antioxidant capacity and low-molecular-weight carbohydrates in Brassica vegetables

J Nilsson, K Olsson, G Engqvist, Jimmy Ekvall, M Olsson, Margareta Nyman, Björn Åkesson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Bioactive compounds were investigated in genotypes (cauliflower 10, white cabbage 10, curly kale 1) and plant parts of the three crops. The content of most of the major glucosinolates glucobrassicin, sinigrin and glucoiberin differed significantly between cultivars. Samples harvested in 2000 had higher amounts of several glucosinolates than samples from 1999. Within cauliflower the buds of the floret had 1.5 to 2.5-fold higher concentration of glucobrassicin and 4-methoxyglucobrassicin than the stalk. In white cabbage several glucosinolates had their highest content in the outer leaves (up to 2-fold higher). Upper leaves of curly kale contained 5-fold more of total glucosinolates than lower leaves. Chlorogenic acid was the dominating hydroxycinnamate in curly kale, which also contained at least ten times more of carotenoids (mainly lutein) than white cabbage. Total antioxidant capacity (TAC) assayed with the FRAP method was 0.76 (0.06) mu mol/g fw (mean (SD)) in water-soluble and 0.32 (0.04) in water-insoluble extracts of cauliflower which was 62-68% higher than in white cabbage. Curly kale contained 6.4 and 6.1 mu mol/g fw TAC in water-soluble and water-insoluble extracts. TAC did not differ between plant parts. Progoitrin and 4-hydroxyglucobrassicin were correlated to water-soluble TAC in white cabbage, probably reflecting a variation in other compounds. Cauliflower contained less glucose, fructose and sorbitol but more sucrose than white cabbage. Curly kale had lower contents of glucose (similar to 2 times), fructose (similar to 4-S times) and sucrose (20 and 36 times, respectively) than cauliflower and white cabbage, while inositol was only found in curly kale. Storage of white cabbage reduced the amount of sorbitol and sucrose. The study shows that cultivar, plant part and storage affect the content of bioactive compounds in Brassica vegetables. The variation between years, as in cauliflower, is due to environmental factors. Since the cultivar ranking order was rather stable for several components the data could provide a basis for the selection of cultivars optimised for valuable health components for fresh market consumption. (c) 2005 Society of Chemical Industry.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)528-538
JournalJournal of the Science of Food and Agriculture
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2006

Bibliographical note

The information about affiliations in this record was updated in December 2015.
The record was previously connected to the following departments: Pure and Applied Biochemistry (LTH) (011001005), Applied Nutrition and Food Chemistry (011001300)

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Agricultural Science, Forestry and Fisheries


  • plant part
  • storage
  • cultivars
  • FRAP
  • capacity
  • total antioxidant
  • hydroxycinnamic acids
  • carotenoids
  • glucosinolates
  • curly kale
  • white cabbage
  • Brassica oleracea
  • cauliflower
  • low-molecular-weight carbohydrates


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