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Acid and moisture uptake in steamed and boiled sweet potatoes and associated structural changes during in vitro gastric digestion

Mennah-Govela, Yamile A., Bornhorst, Gail M.
Food research international 2016 v.88 pp. 247-255
acidity, cell walls, chemical degradation, cooking, diffusivity, digestion, food matrix, functional foods, functional properties, gastric acid, hardness, light microscopy, mass transfer, microstructure, nutrients, phytopharmaceuticals, starch, sweet potatoes, texture, water content
Orange-fleshed sweet potatoes are a good source of phytochemicals. For these nutrients to be absorbed, they must be released from the food matrix as a result of physical and chemical breakdown. A key factor in food breakdown is gastric acid diffusion into the matrix, and its influence on structural changes. Cooking treatment may influence mass transport properties and structural changes of foods during digestion. The objective of this study was to determine the acid and moisture uptake into sweet potatoes and its influence on macro- and micro-structures during in vitro gastric digestion as a result of varying cooking treatments. Sweet potatoes were cut into cubes and cooked (boiled or steamed) for different times. In vitro oral and gastric digestions were simulated in a shaking water bath at 37°C. Acidity, moisture content, and solid loss were measured after 9 digestion times (15 to 240min). Hardness of individual cubes and microstructure (light microscopy) were completed before and after digestion. Effective diffusivity of acid and moisture into the cubes was estimated using MATLAB. Cooking method, cooking severity, and digestion time significantly influenced moisture uptake (p<0.0001). Acid uptake was significantly influenced by digestion time (p<0.0001). The change of softening after digestion was influenced by cooking method and severity (p<0.05). Effective diffusivity of acid ranged from 0.03×10−10 (mild steamed) to 11.40×10−10m2/s (severely boiled). Percent texture decrease after digestion from the initial hardness ranged from 16% (severely steamed) to 34% (mild boiled). Textural changes were related to cell wall breakdown and starch degradation. In general, mass transport properties and macro- and microstructural changes were influenced by cooking treatment and gastric digestion. The link between food cooking and behavior during digestion is crucial in determining optimal food processing and cooking methods for specific food functional properties.