Effect of pulsed electric fields on carotenoid and phenolic bioaccessibility and their relationship with carrot structure
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Phenolic compounds (PC) and carotenoids from carrots are bound to dietary fibre or stored in vacuoles and chromoplasts, respectively. To exert their antioxidant effects these compounds must be released during digestion, which is hindered by such barriers. Pulsed electric fields (PEF) modify cell membrane permeability, thus enhancing their bioaccessibility. The effect of PEF on the carrot carotenoid and PC content and bioaccessibility was investigated. With this purpose, PEF-treated carrots (5 pulses of 3.5 kV cm−1) were stored for 24 h at 4 °C and microstructure was evaluated before subjecting them to in vitro digestion. PEF did not affect carotenoid content, whereas their bioaccessibility improved (11.9%). Likewise, PEF increased the content of some PC, e.g. coumaric acid (163.2%), probably caused by their better extractability. Conversely, caffeic acid derivatives decreased, which may be associated to greater contact with oxidative enzymes. Total PC bioaccessibility (20.8%) and some derivatives increased, e.g. caffeoylshikimic (68.9%), whereas some decreased (e.g. ferulic acid). Structural changes caused by PEF may improve bioaccessibility of carotenoids and PC by favouring their release and easy access to digestive enzymes. However, other antioxidants may be further degraded or entrapped during digestion. Therefore, PEF is an effective technology for obtaining carrots with enhanced carotenoids and phenolic bioaccessibility.