Exploring the Functional Potential of Pataxte (Theobroma bicolor)

TIME: 6pm – 7.30PM


Theobroma bicolor, known in Mexico as pataxte, is an under-utilized fruit considered to be a kind of inferior cacao. The trees grow in the damp soil of tropical forests and jungles and produce fruits weighing approximately 400 grams, each containing an average of 40 seeds surrounded by bright-yellow, sweet-tasting pulp. The presence of phenolic compounds in the seeds and oligosaccharides in the pulp confers potential antioxidant and prebiotic activities; furthermore, since 42.2% of its fatty acid profile consists of unsaturated fatty acids, it possesses broad potential as a functional food. To try to confirm this potential, the physical and chemical composition of the pataxte seeds and pulp was explored to evaluate their prebiotic and antioxidant potential.

The seeds and pulp were subjected to bromatological analyses to determine their proximal composition. Subsequently, ethanolic extracts of the seeds and pulp were prepared to determine their antioxidant capacity by reducing DPPH radical, and IC50 was calculated. Subsequently, phytochemical analyses were carried out, evaluating the presence of secondary metabolites (alkaloids, flavonoids, tannins, saponins, triterpenoids and cardiotonic glycosides) associated with biological activity. Prebiotic activity was indirectly assessed by evaluating the growth of probiotic lactic bacteria (Lactobacillus brevis, Lactobacillus paracasei and Bacillus mojavensis) in the presence of seed and pulp extracts in two concentrations.
In brief, the results obtained showed that the antioxidant capacity of the seed (94%) was greater than the control (88%) at a concentration of 4.6 mg/mL, with a calculated IC50 of 0.41 mg/mL and 0.75 mg/mL respectively, indicating increased antioxidant activity in the pataxte seed. The phytochemical analysis demonstrated that the seed is rich in cardiotonic glycosides and tannins. Moreover, pataxte extracts were shown to be effective for the growth of lactic acid bacteria, with Lactobacillus brevis, at 20% of the extract, showing the highest growth. The results obtained confirm the functional potential of the seeds and pulp of the pataxte fruit, which could be used to develop novel functional foods.

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