Caffeoylquinic acid (CQA) derivatives are known to possess antioxidative potential and have many beneficial effects on human health. The present study compared the CQA contents and antioxidant activities of aerial parts of sweet potato plants. The effects of drying methods (freeze drying, and drying at 30°C, 70°C, and 100°C) on these two parameters of the first fully expanded leaves were also assessed. The results indicated that the CQA derivatives were detectable in leaves, stem, and flowers of sweet potato plants (varied from 39.34 mg/g dry weight to 154.05 mg/g dry weight), with the leaves (particularly expanding and first fully expanded leaves) containing more CQA derivatives than other aerial plant parts. The expanding and first fully expanded leaves also exhibited greater antioxidant activities than other aerial plant parts, possibly due to their higher contents of CQA derivatives. Drying method significantly affected the content of CQA derivatives in dried sweet potato leaf tissues. Drying treatments at both 70°C and 100°C significantly reduced the CQA derivative content and antioxidant activity in the first fully expanded leaves. Among the tested drying methods, the freeze-drying method demonstrated the preservation of the highest amount of CQA derivatives (147.84 mg/g) and antioxidant property. However, 30°C cool air drying was also a desirable choice (total CQA derivative content was reduced to only 129.52 mg/g), compared to 70°C and 100°C hot air drying, for commercial-scale processing of sweet potato leaves, if the higher operation cost of freeze drying was a major concern. © 2014, Food and Drug Administration, Taiwan. Published by Elsevier Taiwan LLC.

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