Jerusalem artichoke (JA) is widely known to have inulin-rich tubers. However, its fresh aerial biomass produces significant levels of leaf protein and economic bioactive phytochemicals. We have characterized leaf protein concentrate (JAPC) isolated from green biomass of three Jerusalem artichoke clones, Alba, Fuseau, and Kalevala, and its nutritional value for the human diet or animal feeding. The JAPC yield varied from 28.6 to 31.2 g DM kg-1 green biomass with an average total protein content of 33.3% on a dry mass basis. The qualitative analysis of the phytochemical composition of JAPC was performed by ultra-high performance liquid chromatography-electrospray ionization-Orbitrap/mass spectrometry analysis (UHPLC-ESI-ORBITRAP-MS/MS). Fifty-three phytochemicals were successfully identified in JAPC. In addition to the phenolic acids (especially mono- and di-hydroxycinnamic acid esters of quinic acids) several medically important hydroxylated methoxyflavones, i.e., dimethoxy-tetrahydroxyflavone, dihydroxy-methoxyflavone, hymenoxin, and nevadensin, were detected in the JAPC for the first time. Liquiritigenin, an estrogenic-like flavanone, was measured in the JAPC as well as butein and kukulkanin B, as chalcones. The results also showed high contents of the essential amino acids and polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs; 66-68%) in JAPC. Linolenic acid represented 39-43% of the total lipid content; moreover, the ratio between ω-6 and ω-3 fatty acids in the JAPC was ~0.6:1. Comparing the JA clones, no major differences in phytochemicals, fatty acid, or amino acid compositions were observed. This paper confirms the economic and nutritional value of JAPC as it is not only an alternative plant protein source but also as a good source of biological valuable phytochemicals.
Keywords: UHPLC-ESI-ORBITRAP-MS/MS; amino acids; circular economy; food and feed; green biorefinery; phytochemicals; polyunsaturated fatty acids.