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Molecules 2018, 23(4), 916; https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules23040916

Cultivar and Harvest Month Influence the Nutrient Content of Opuntia spp. Cactus Pear Cladode Mucilage Extracts

1
Department of Consumer Science, Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein 9300, South Africa
2
Department of Microbial, Biochemical and Food Biotechnology, Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein 9300, South Africa
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 15 February 2018 / Revised: 19 March 2018 / Accepted: 24 March 2018 / Published: 16 April 2018
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Abstract

Mucilage extracted from cactus pear cladodes is a hydrocolloid gum. It is a novel, natural, low-kilojoule, cost-effective texture-modifying ingredient in functional food products. Yet, the cultivar with the most optimal nutrient content and the preferred harvest times are as yet unknown. For this reason, mucilage from three Opuntia ficus-indica (Algerian, Morado and Gymno-Carpo) and one Opuntia robusta (Robusta) cultivar were investigated to determine their nutrient content over six months. Nutrients that contribute energy (10.2 kJ/g) were low. The mineral content was high (ash 17.7/100 g), particularly calcium (3.0 g/100 g) and phosphorous (109.5 mg/kg). Low insoluble acid-detergent fibre (1.4 g/kg) and neutral-detergent fibre (2.1 g/kg) values indicated that mucilage was mostly soluble fibre. Calcium oxalate crystals were not detected in dried mucilage. Opuntia robusta powders had higher protein, extractable fat and potassium content, while Opuntia ficus-indica mucilage powders had higher polyunsaturated (Linoleic and α-Linolenic acid) fat content. O. robusta Robusta mucilage, harvested after the fruit harvest (February) had the lowest energy content and the highest mineral and protein content. Mucilage powders were highly soluble, low-kilojoule and mineral-rich. This is a functional ingredient that is produced from an easily cultivated crop, as cactus pears grow in areas with poor soil, extremely high daytime temperatures and limited water supplies. View Full-Text
Keywords: prickly pear; nopal; Opuntia ficus-indica; Opuntia robusta; hydrocolloid gum; dietary fibre; calcium oxalate crystals; minerals and trace elements prickly pear; nopal; Opuntia ficus-indica; Opuntia robusta; hydrocolloid gum; dietary fibre; calcium oxalate crystals; minerals and trace elements
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).
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du Toit, A.; de Wit, M.; Hugo, A. Cultivar and Harvest Month Influence the Nutrient Content of Opuntia spp. Cactus Pear Cladode Mucilage Extracts. Molecules 2018, 23, 916.

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