Digestibility of (poly)phenols and antioxidant activity in raw and cooked cactus cladodes (Opuntia ficus-indica)
This study aims to investigate whether heat treatment applied to cactus cladodes influences the bioaccessibility of their (poly)phenolic compounds after simulated gastric and intestinal digestion. A total of 45 (poly)phenols were identified and quantified in raw and cooked cactus cladodes by ultra high performance liquid chromatography photodiode array detector high resolution mass spectrometry. Both flavonoids (60-68% total), mainly isorhamnetin derivatives, and phenolic acids (32-40%) with eucomic acids as the predominant ones significantly (p < 0.05) increased with microwaving and griddling processes. After in vitro gastrointestinal digestion, 5S-64% of the total (poly)phenols of cooked cactus cladodes remained bioaccessible versus 44% in raw samples. Furthermore, digestive conditions and enzymes degraded or retained more flavonoids (37-63% bioaccessibility) than phenolic acids (56-87% bioaccessibility). Microwaved cactus cladodes contributed the highest amount of (poy)phenols (143.54 mg/g dm) after gastrointestinal process, followed by griddled samples (133.98 mg/g dm), showing the highest antioxidant capacity. Additionally, gastrointestinal digestion induced isomerizations among the three stereoisomeric forms of piscidic and eucomic acids.