Advances in Fruit and Vegetable Quality, Bioactive Compounds and Nutritional Value

A special issue of Foods (ISSN 2304-8158). This special issue belongs to the section "Food Quality and Safety".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 April 2024) | Viewed by 15438

Special Issue Editors


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Guest Editor
Nutrition and Bromatology Group, Analytical and Food Chemistry Department, Faculty of Food Science and Technology, Ourense Campus, University of Vigo, 32004 Ourense, Spain
Interests: fruit and vegetable quality; bioactive compounds; green processing; functional foods; waste recycling; nanoencapsulation
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

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Guest Editor
Center for Research and Development in Food Cryotechnology, (CIDCA-CONICET-UNLP), La Plata, Argentina
Interests: probiotics; prebiotics; fermented products; circular economy; food processing; green synthesis processes; structure function relationship
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The increasing demand for fresh fruit- and vegetable-based products is related to growing evidence regarding both their nutritional value and the presence of health-promoting compounds. However, fresh fruits and vegetables are highly perishable, leading to significant losses throughout the whole supply chain. Thus, extending the shelf-life of minimally processed fruit and vegetables while retaining overall quality remains a challenging task. For this purpose, the application of emerging processes and the development of edible coating and films are some of the currently applied strategies to overcome these disadvantages. On the other hand, innovative approaches have been proposed to valorize waste and fruit and vegetable by-products, including green extraction procedures for bioactive ingredients, micro/nanoencapsulation, fermentation processes, and the synthesis of nanoparticles, among others. Thus, the present Special Issue aims to provide an overview of the recent advancements in processes toward maintaining the overall quality (microbiological, sensory, and nutritional) of fresh-cut fruit and vegetables for prolonged storage as well as green approaches that deal with valorizing wastes from the agro-food industry. The development of novel functional foods containing fruit- and vegetable-waste-based ingredients will be also considered.

We invite researchers to submit original research or review articles to this Special Issue that are in line with the above-mentioned objectives. These high-quality articles should consider one or more of the following topics: emerging preservation technology, edible coatings and films, fermentation processes, green extraction technologies, micro/nanoencapsulation, the synthesis of nanoparticles with application in the food industry, the incorporation of bioactive compounds into functional foods, and/or sustainable valorizing processes.

Dr. Lucía Cassani
Dr. Andrea Gomez-Zavaglia
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Foods is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2900 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • valorizing strategies
  • overall quality
  • extended shelf-life
  • green processes
  • bioactive compounds
  • stabilizing approaches
  • nanotechnology
  • functional foods

Published Papers (11 papers)

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Research

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15 pages, 4432 KiB  
Article
Evaluation of Blue Honeysuckle Berries (Lonicera caerulea L.) Dried at Different Temperatures: Basic Quality, Sensory Attributes, Bioactive Compounds, and In Vitro Antioxidant Activity
by Min Yu, Beibei Wang, Zhiqiang Huang, Jinjiao Lv, Yunfei Teng, Tianbo Li, Yu Zhang, Kun Dong, Dong Qin, Junwei Huo and Chenqiao Zhu
Foods 2024, 13(8), 1240; https://doi.org/10.3390/foods13081240 - 18 Apr 2024
Viewed by 671
Abstract
This study aims to comprehensively investigate the effects of hot-air dehydration on the quality of blue honeysuckle berries (Lonicera caerulea L.). The results demonstrated that drying with hot air at 40–65 °C for 7–72 h resulted in blue honeysuckle berries with a [...] Read more.
This study aims to comprehensively investigate the effects of hot-air dehydration on the quality of blue honeysuckle berries (Lonicera caerulea L.). The results demonstrated that drying with hot air at 40–65 °C for 7–72 h resulted in blue honeysuckle berries with a moisture content of 0.21–1.10 g H2O/g dry weight. Generally, low to medium temperatures (40–55 °C) showed a better effect on the quality than high temperatures (60–65 °C). Specifically, drying at 40 °C exclusively resulted in better retention of cuticular wax, the best sensory appearance, and the highest total phenolic content. Drying at 45 °C and 50 °C resulted in the highest antioxidant capacity and the optimal sensory flavor. Drying at 55 °C led to the highest soluble solid/acid ratio, ascorbic acid concentration, total flavonoid, and total anthocyanin. The work introduces an innovative raw berry product and provides a comprehensive practical and theoretical framework for convective dehydration of blue honeysuckle berries. Full article
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20 pages, 2404 KiB  
Article
The Browning Properties, Antioxidant Activity, and α-Glucosidase Inhibitory Improvement of Aged Oranges (Citrus sinensis)
by Ting-Yu Hsu, Kai-Min Yang, Yi-Chan Chiang, Li-Yun Lin and Po-Yuan Chiang
Foods 2024, 13(7), 1093; https://doi.org/10.3390/foods13071093 - 2 Apr 2024
Viewed by 1041
Abstract
Oranges contain many natural active chemicals, organic acids, and polysaccharides. Aging processing is commonly used to modify the color, quality, functional components, and stability of fruits. This study assesses the preparation of aging black oranges using various pre-treatments and solid fermentation. Oranges were [...] Read more.
Oranges contain many natural active chemicals, organic acids, and polysaccharides. Aging processing is commonly used to modify the color, quality, functional components, and stability of fruits. This study assesses the preparation of aging black oranges using various pre-treatments and solid fermentation. Oranges were aged for six weeks in fresh, non-blanching, blanching, and hot air-assisted aging cycle (AA) groups. The oranges’ shrinkage ratio, color difference values, and soluble solids content changed significantly (p < 0.05). Principal component analysis indicated that aging fermentation treatment accelerated glycolysis and increased the ratio of reducing sugars. The enhanced browning can be associated with the oxidation of ascorbic acid (0.66–0.47 mg/g) and the formation of 5-hydroxymethylfurfural (5-HMF) (0.09 mg/g). Furthermore, the presence of free polyphenols led to an increase in the total polyphenol and total flavonoid content. It also had a synergistic effect with 5-HMF in increasing the 2,2-diphenyl-1-picrylhydrazyl free radical-scavenging capacity and ferric ion-reducing antioxidant power (p < 0.05). AA had superior α-glucosidase inhibitory ability increasing from 67.31 to 80.48%. It also reduced the development time by 33%. Therefore, aging technology can enhance the bioactive compounds in oranges and provide a reference for future whole-fruit aging fermentation and health product creation. Full article
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19 pages, 3064 KiB  
Article
Volatile Metabolites to Assess the Onset of Chilling Injury in Fresh-Cut Nectarines
by Michela Palumbo, Maria Cefola, Bernardo Pace, Ilde Ricci, Francesco Siano, Giuseppe Amato, Matteo Stocchero and Rosaria Cozzolino
Foods 2024, 13(7), 1047; https://doi.org/10.3390/foods13071047 - 29 Mar 2024
Viewed by 784
Abstract
Fresh-cut processing is a good strategy to enhance the commercialization of peaches and nectarines, which easily deteriorate during low-temperature storage mostly due to the occurrence of chilling injury. Although several studies have been performed to improve the shelf-life of fresh-cut stone fruit, the [...] Read more.
Fresh-cut processing is a good strategy to enhance the commercialization of peaches and nectarines, which easily deteriorate during low-temperature storage mostly due to the occurrence of chilling injury. Although several studies have been performed to improve the shelf-life of fresh-cut stone fruit, the achievement of high-quality fresh-cut peaches and nectarines still constitutes a challenge. The present study aimed to gain insights into the evolution of the postharvest quality of fresh-cut nectarines (Prunus persica L. Batsch) Big Bang, cold-stored at two different storage temperatures (4 and 8 °C) for up to 10 days. Several aspects influencing the quality traits (sensory and postharvest quality parameters; the profile of phenolic and volatile organic compounds (VOCs)) were explored to predict the marketable life of the fresh-cut nectarines. The respiration rate was higher in samples stored at 4 °C, while the browning process was more evident in fruit stored at 8 °C. Partial Least Squares Regression performed on VOCs showed that samples stored at 4 °C and 8 °C presented a different time evolution during the experiment and the trajectories depended on the interaction between time and temperature. Moreover, Multiple Linear Regression analysis discovered that the 17 VOCs affected by the storage conditions seemed to suggest that no chilling injury was detected for nectarines Big Bang. In conclusion, this approach could also be used with other nectarine cultivars and/or different stone fruits. Full article
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16 pages, 3042 KiB  
Article
Improvements in the Appearance and Nutritional Quality of Tomato Fruits Resulting from Foliar Spraying with Silicon
by Li Wang, Ning Jin, Yandong Xie, Wen Zhu, Ye Yang, Jiaying Wang, Yongzhong Lei, Wenkai Liu, Shuya Wang, Li Jin, Jihua Yu and Jian Lyu
Foods 2024, 13(2), 223; https://doi.org/10.3390/foods13020223 - 10 Jan 2024
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1286
Abstract
Research on silicon (Si), an element considered beneficial for plant growth, has focused on abiotic and biotic stress mitigation. However, the effect of Si on tomato fruit quality under normal growth conditions remains unclear. This study investigated the effects of applying different levels [...] Read more.
Research on silicon (Si), an element considered beneficial for plant growth, has focused on abiotic and biotic stress mitigation. However, the effect of Si on tomato fruit quality under normal growth conditions remains unclear. This study investigated the effects of applying different levels of Si (0 mmol·L−1 [CK], 0.6 mmol·L−1 [T1], 1.2 mmol·L−1 [T2], and 1.8 mmol·L−1 [T3]) in foliar sprays on tomato fruit quality cultivated in substrates, and the most beneficial Si level was found. Compared to CK, exogenous Si treatments had a positive influence on the appearance and nutritional quality of tomato fruits at the mature green, breaker, and red ripening stages. Of these, T2 treatment significantly increased peel firmness and single-fruit weight in tomato fruits. The contents of soluble sugars, soluble solids, soluble proteins, and vitamin C were significantly higher, and the nitrate content was significantly lower in the T2 treatment than in the CK treatment. Cluster analysis showed that T2 produced results that were significantly different from those of the CK, T1, and T3 treatments. During the red ripening stage, the a* values of fruits in the T2 treatment tomato were significantly higher than those in the other three treatments. Moreover, the lycopene and lutein contents of the T2 treatment increased by 12.90% and 17.14%, respectively, compared to CK. T2 treatment significantly upregulated the relative gene expression levels of the phytoene desaturase gene (PDS), the lycopene ε-cyclase gene (LCY-E), and the zeaxanthin cyclooxygenase gene (ZEP) in the carotenoid key genes. The total amino acid content in tomato fruits in the T2 treatment was also significantly higher than that of CK. In summary, foliar spraying of 1.2 mmol·L−1 exogenous Si was effective in improving the appearance and nutritional quality of tomato fruits under normal growth conditions. This study provides new approaches to further elucidate the application of exogenous silicon to improve tomato fruit quality under normal conditions. Full article
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11 pages, 992 KiB  
Article
Phytochemical Investigation of Sumac (Rhus coriaria L.) Fruits from Different Sicilian Accessions
by Eugenia Mazzara, Arianna Caprodossi, Ahmed M. Mustafa, Filippo Maggi and Giovanni Caprioli
Foods 2023, 12(23), 4359; https://doi.org/10.3390/foods12234359 - 2 Dec 2023
Viewed by 1014
Abstract
Sumac, Rhus coriaria L., is employed as a natural preservative in the food sector, due to its rich content of antioxidant compounds, including hydrolysable tannins, phenolic acids, anthocyanins, and flavonoids. In this work, the phytochemical characterization of sumac fruits from five Sicilian accessions [...] Read more.
Sumac, Rhus coriaria L., is employed as a natural preservative in the food sector, due to its rich content of antioxidant compounds, including hydrolysable tannins, phenolic acids, anthocyanins, and flavonoids. In this work, the phytochemical characterization of sumac fruits from five Sicilian accessions was performed to evaluate their potential as a food preservative for nutraceutical exploitation. Spectrophotometric tests and HPLC-MS/MS analyses were conducted to assess and compare the antioxidant power of the water extracts produced with the five sumac accessions. Principal component analysis was also carried out to better visualize the obtained results. Flavonoids and phenolic acids, namely isoquercitrin (20,342.82 mg/kg dry extract) and gallic acid (197,489.19 mg/kg dry extract), were more abundant in fruits from the population of San Biagio Platani, while the one from Giarratana was characterized by a higher content of anthocyanins such as cyanidin-3-glucoside (20,889.81 mg/kg dry extract). These two populations can be recognized as the most suitable settings for the implementation of sumac cultivation and the development of sumac-based products, especially for food and nutraceutical purposes. Full article
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15 pages, 2229 KiB  
Article
The Physicochemical Attributes, Volatile Compounds, and Antioxidant Activities of Five Plum Cultivars in Sichuan
by Zixi Lin, Binbin Li, Maowen Liao, Jia Liu, Yan Zhou, Yumei Liang, Huaiyu Yuan, Ke Li and Huajia Li
Foods 2023, 12(20), 3801; https://doi.org/10.3390/foods12203801 - 17 Oct 2023
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1164
Abstract
Plum (Prunus salicina Lindl.) is an important stone fruit crop in Sichuan that is increasingly in demand by consumers owing to its flavor and outstanding nutraceutical properties. The physicochemical characteristics, antioxidant capacity, and volatile profiles of five traditional and new plum cultivars [...] Read more.
Plum (Prunus salicina Lindl.) is an important stone fruit crop in Sichuan that is increasingly in demand by consumers owing to its flavor and outstanding nutraceutical properties. The physicochemical characteristics, antioxidant capacity, and volatile profiles of five traditional and new plum cultivars in Sichuan were determined using high-performance liquid chromatography and gas chromatography time-of-flight mass spectrometry. The results showed that all plums exhibited an appropriate quality profile for fresh consumption; the new cultivar ‘ZH’ exhibited the highest soluble solids content, sugar–acid ratio, total phenolic content, total flavonoid content, and antioxidant capacity. High sugar–low acid properties were observed in five plum cultivars. Sucrose was the main sugar, while quinic acid and malic acid were the main organic acids. The plums were rich in volatile compounds and had specific volatile characteristics. A total of 737 volatiles were identified in the plum fruit, and orthogonal partial least-squares discriminant analysis was employed to screen 40 differential volatiles as markers for cultivar distinction. These findings offer comprehensive information on the physicochemical characteristics, antioxidant capacity, and volatile profiles of plums. Full article
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14 pages, 1545 KiB  
Article
Chickpeas’ and Lentils’ Soaking and Cooking Wastewaters Repurposed for Growing Lactic Acid Bacteria
by Gonçalo Nuno Martins, Angela Daniela Carboni, Ayelén Amelia Hugo, Paula Cristina Castilho and Andrea Gómez-Zavaglia
Foods 2023, 12(12), 2324; https://doi.org/10.3390/foods12122324 - 9 Jun 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1805
Abstract
Legumes processing involves large amounts of water to remove anti-nutrients, reduce uncomfortable effects, and improve organoleptic characteristics. This procedure generates waste and high levels of environmental pollution. This work aims to evaluate the galacto-oligosaccharide (GOS) and general carbohydrate composition of legume wastewaters and [...] Read more.
Legumes processing involves large amounts of water to remove anti-nutrients, reduce uncomfortable effects, and improve organoleptic characteristics. This procedure generates waste and high levels of environmental pollution. This work aims to evaluate the galacto-oligosaccharide (GOS) and general carbohydrate composition of legume wastewaters and assess their potential for growing lactic acid bacteria. Legume wastewater extracts were produced by soaking and/or cooking the dry seeds of chickpeas and lentils in distilled water and analysed using high-performance liquid chromatography with refractive index detection. GOS were present in all extracts, which was also confirmed by Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR). C-BW extract, produced by cooking chickpeas without soaking, provided the highest extraction yield of 3% (g/100 g dry seeds). Lentil extracts were the richest source of GOS with degree of polymerization ≥ 5 (0.4%). Lactiplantibacillus plantarum CIDCA 83114 was able to grow in de Man, Rogosa, and Sharpe (MRS) broth prepared by replacing the glucose naturally present in the medium with chickpeas’ and lentils’ extracts. Bacteria were able to consume the mono and disaccharides present in the media with extracts, as demonstrated by HPLC and FTIR. These results provide support for the revalorisation of chickpeas’ and lentils’ wastewater, being also a sustainable way to purify GOS by removing mono and disaccharides from the mixtures. Full article
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13 pages, 879 KiB  
Article
Using HPLC-MS/MS to Determine the Loss of Primary and Secondary Metabolites in the Dehydration Process of Apple Slices
by Jan Juhart, Aljaz Medic, Jerneja Jakopic, Robert Veberic, Metka Hudina and Franci Stampar
Foods 2023, 12(6), 1201; https://doi.org/10.3390/foods12061201 - 12 Mar 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1292
Abstract
The aim of this study was to compare peeled and unpeeled dehydrated apple slices of the red-fleshed ‘Baya Marisa’ and the white-fleshed ‘Golden Delicious’, to analyze the difference in the content of sugars, organic acids, and phenolic compounds during the heat process of [...] Read more.
The aim of this study was to compare peeled and unpeeled dehydrated apple slices of the red-fleshed ‘Baya Marisa’ and the white-fleshed ‘Golden Delicious’, to analyze the difference in the content of sugars, organic acids, and phenolic compounds during the heat process of dehydration, and to compare it with our previous study on fresh apples of the same cultivar. The purpose of these study was to see how many primary and secondary metabolites are lost in the dehydration process to better understand what is ingested by consumers in terms of nutritional value. A total of 30 phenolic compounds were identified and quantified, some of them for the first time. The total analyzed phenolic content (TAPC) of the unpeeled dehydrated apple slices was 1.7 times higher in ‘Golden Delicious’ than in ‘Baya Marisa’. The unpeeled dehydrated apple slices of ‘Golden Delicious’ had higher total hydroxycinnamic acid (2.7×) and dihydrochalcone (1.2×) content. The peeled dehydrated apple slices of ‘Baya Marisa’ had higher total dihydrochalcone (2.2×) and total flavanol (2.2×) content compared to ‘Golden Delicious’. The content of citric and malic acids was higher in the unpeeled and peeled dehydrated apple slices of ‘Baya Marisa’, compared to ‘Golden Delicious’. The content of ascorbic acid was higher in the unpeeled (1.6×) and peeled (1.8×) dried apple slices of ‘Baya Marisa’. The content of fructose and glucose was 1.4 times higher in the unpeeled dried apple slices of ‘Golden Delicious’. Full article
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17 pages, 2775 KiB  
Article
Evaluation and Optimization of Quality Based on the Physicochemical Characteristics and Metabolites Changes of Qingpi during Storage
by Yunxia Cheng, Cui Wu, Zhenying Liu, Pingping Song, Bo Xu and Zhimao Chao
Foods 2023, 12(3), 463; https://doi.org/10.3390/foods12030463 - 19 Jan 2023
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1556
Abstract
Qingpi, the dried immature pericarp of Citrus reticulata Blanco, is a commonly used medicinal food with some health-promoting benefits. In general, it is essential that Qingpi be stored for a period of time, but there are no reports about the number of storage [...] Read more.
Qingpi, the dried immature pericarp of Citrus reticulata Blanco, is a commonly used medicinal food with some health-promoting benefits. In general, it is essential that Qingpi be stored for a period of time, but there are no reports about the number of storage years needed to obtain the best quality of Qingpi. Our aim was to determine the best storage time of Qingpi by studying the physicochemical properties and metabolite changes in product stored from 1 to 5 years. As a result, the color of Qingpi became darker during storage. Both the levels of three flavonoids (hesperidin, nobiletin, and tangeretin) and total flavonoids (TFs) and the antioxidant activity decreased during storage and the total phenolics (TPs) content fluctuated during storage. Cluster analysis was performed on the color parameters measured using a color difference meter, revealing that the color of Qingpi differed before and after 3 years of storage. A total of 9 special differential metabolites were identified that could be used to distinguish the storage years of Qingpi. This is the first study to report the quality changes of Qingpi during storage. The optimized results of the quality evaluation indicated that Qingpi should be stored for no more than 3 years. Full article
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20 pages, 1570 KiB  
Article
Effect of Juglone and Other Allelochemicals in Walnut Leaves on Yield, Quality and Metabolites of Snack Cucumber (Cucumis sativus L.)
by Aljaz Medic, Tilen Zamljen, Ana Slatnar, Metka Hudina, Mariana Cecilia Grohar and Robert Veberic
Foods 2023, 12(2), 371; https://doi.org/10.3390/foods12020371 - 12 Jan 2023
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 1952
Abstract
The consumption of fresh vegetables has been consistently associated with numerous health benefits. However, several factors (such as allelochemicals) influence yield, quality, and metabolites, which inevitably affect the fruit quality and health benefits. The present study was conducted to investigate the yield, quality, [...] Read more.
The consumption of fresh vegetables has been consistently associated with numerous health benefits. However, several factors (such as allelochemicals) influence yield, quality, and metabolites, which inevitably affect the fruit quality and health benefits. The present study was conducted to investigate the yield, quality, metabolic responses, and potential toxicity of Cucumis sativus grown in juglone-containing soils. For the treatments, pure juglone (100 µM, 1 mM) and walnut leaf extracts (100 µM) in soil concentrations found in walnut orchards were used. A total of 36 phenolic compounds were identified and quantified in fruits, leaves, and roots using a mass spectrometer coupled with high-performance liquid chromatography. We concluded that juglone at a concentration of 100 µM or walnut leaf extract at the same juglone concentration does not affect the yield of C. sativus, while juglone at a concentration of 1 mM strongly affects it. In the case of juglone, juglone itself was found only in the roots of C. sativus, but not in the leaves or fruits, so C. sativus fruits are considered safe for cultivation in juglone-containing soils. However, this could prove problematic if the plants grown are tubers or root vegetables. The data suggest that juglone itself inhibits secondary metabolism in the plant, making it more susceptible to stress and pathogen attacks. Full article
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Review

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16 pages, 2159 KiB  
Review
Recent Progress in Understanding the Impact of Food Processing and Storage on the Structure–Activity Relationship of Fucoxanthin
by Andrea Gomez-Zavaglia, Lillian Barros, Miguel A. Prieto and Lucía Cassani
Foods 2023, 12(17), 3167; https://doi.org/10.3390/foods12173167 - 23 Aug 2023
Viewed by 1619
Abstract
Fucoxanthin, a brown algae carotenoid, has attracted great interest because of its numerous biological activities supported by in vitro and in vivo studies. However, its chemical structure is susceptible to alterations when subjected to food processing and storage conditions, such as heat, oxygen, [...] Read more.
Fucoxanthin, a brown algae carotenoid, has attracted great interest because of its numerous biological activities supported by in vitro and in vivo studies. However, its chemical structure is susceptible to alterations when subjected to food processing and storage conditions, such as heat, oxygen, light, and pH changes. Consequently, these conditions lead to the formation of fucoxanthin derivatives, including cis-isomers, apo-fucoxanthinone, apo-fucoxanthinal, fucoxanthinol, epoxides, and hydroxy compounds, collectively known as degradation products. Currently, little information is available regarding the stability and functionality of these fucoxanthin derivatives resulting from food processing and storage. Therefore, enhancing the understanding of the biological effect of fucoxanthin derivatives is crucial for optimizing the utilization of fucoxanthin in various applications and ensuring its efficacy in potential health benefits. To this aim, this review describes the main chemical reactions affecting the stability of fucoxanthin during food processing and storage, facilitating the identification of the major fucoxanthin derivatives. Moreover, recent advancements in the structure–activity relationship of fucoxanthin derivatives will be critically assessed, emphasizing their biological activity. Overall, this review provides a critical updated understanding of the effects of technological processes on fucoxanthin stability and activity that can be helpful for stakeholders when designing processes for food products containing fucoxanthin. Full article
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