Grape pomace is a byproduct of wineries and a rich source of phenolic compounds that can exert multiple pharmacological effects when consumed and enter the intestine where they can then be absorbed. Phenolic compounds are susceptible to degradation and interaction with other food constituents during digestion, and encapsulation may be a useful technique for protecting phenolic bioactivity and controlling its release. Therefore, the behavior of phenolic-rich grape pomace extracts encapsulated by the ionic gelation method, using a natural coating (sodium alginate, gum arabic, gelatin, and chitosan), was observed during simulated digestion in vitro. The best encapsulation efficiency (69.27%) was obtained with alginate hydrogels. The physicochemical properties of the microbeads were influenced by the coatings used. Scanning electron microscopy showed that drying had the least effect on the surface area of the chitosan-coated microbeads. A structural analysis showed that the structure of the extract changed from crystalline to amorphous after encapsulation. The phenolic compounds were released from the microbeads by Fickian diffusion, which is best described by the Korsmeyer-Peppas model among the four models tested. The obtained results can be used as a predictive tool for the preparation of microbeads containing natural bioactive compounds that could be useful for the development of food supplements.
Keywords: encapsulation; ionic gelation; particle characterization; phenolic compounds; simulated digestion in vitro; winery residues.