Musa paradisiaca L. (plantain) and Musa sapientum L. (banana) are tropical fruits that play a major role in the nutrition and health of people throughout the world. Analyses of the levels of antioxidants such as glutathione, caroteniods and vitamin E of two cultivars of Musa paradisaca and three cultivars of Musa sapientum revealed an increase in these antioxidants from the unripe to the overripe stage during ripening. The overripe stages of Musa paradisiaca L.cv. French (Bini plantain) and Musa sapientum L.cv. Bluggoe cacambou (Cooking banana) were found to contain the highest level of glutathione (54.10±0.60 μg/g fresh weight and 47.79±3.45 μg/g fresh weight, respectively). The highest level of lycopene occurred in the overripe stages of Musa paradisiaca L. cv. False horn (Auchi plantain) and Musa sapientum L.cv. Bluggoe cacambou (Cooking banana) with values 0.91±0.00 and 0.80±0.01 μg/gfresh weight, respectively. The highest level of vitamin E (20.20±1.99 μg/gfresh weight and 17.53±1.18 μg/gfreshweight) occurred in Musa paradisiaca L.cv False horn (Auchi plantain) and Musa sapientum L.cv Dwarf Cavendish (English banana). However β-caroetene was detected only in the unripe stage of Musa paradisiaca L.cv False horn (Auchi plantain) and the level of β-carotene was negligible. Phytochemical screening of the plantain and banana cultivars showed decreased levels of tannins, phenols and alkaloids but increased levels of saponins and flavonoids as ripening progressed except in Musa sapientum L.cv. Bluggoe cacambou (Cooking banana) where there was a decrease in the level of saponins. Antioxidant activity also increased with ripening in the plantain and banana cultivars, with their ripe and overripe stages having the highest values. Methanolic extracts of the plantain and banana cultivars showed higher antioxidant activity than that of aqueous extracts. The results obtained in this study showed that plantain and banana irrespective of the variety are good sources of antioxidants particularly when they are ripe and overripe.
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