Jujube (Ziziphus jujuba) fruit is widely consumed as food and traditional Chinese medicine in Asian countries due to its potential effects for human health. To facilitate selection of the maturity stage providing optimum health benefits, jujube fruits were analysed at six stages of growth (S1-6) for triterpenic acids, nucleosides, nucleobases, and sugars by UHPLC-MS/MS or HPLC-ELSD methods. The content levels of most triterpenic acids and sugars increased with ripening, and reached the highest at S5 and S6, respectively. The accumulation of the cyclic nucleotides (cAMP and cGMP) was mainly in the later stage of ripening (S5-6). Therefore, if taking triterpenic acids as the major quality indicator, S5 should be the ideal time to harvest jujube fruit, and the full ripen stage (S6) maybe the best choice when taking sugars and cyclic nucleotides as the most important components.
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