Green-leafy vegetables are rich in nutritionally important constituents including carotenoids. Their potential health benefits depend among others on their liberation from the plant matrix. The aim of the present study was to evaluate the effect of particle size and heat treatments on lutein and β-carotene liberation from spinach and Asia salads by applying an in vitro digestion protocol and UHPLC analysis. Reduction of particle size resulted in a three- to fourfold increase in liberation of lutein and β-carotene when comparing whole leaf and puree preparations of spinach. However, this positive effect was shown to be nullified by the severe heat impact during stir-frying of minced spinach, showing that domestic treatments need to be chosen carefully to maximise carotenoid liberation. Steaming significantly improved lutein liberation from Asia salads, but had no or a negative effect in spinach samples, possibly due to differences in liberation or degradation between the two plant matrices.
Keywords: Asia salads; Domestic heat treatments; Lutein; Release from matrix; Spinach; β-Carotene.
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