Starch was isolated from longan seeds of three widely distributed cultivars (Chuliang, Shixia, and Caopu) in China. Comparisons of the multi-level structure of the starch of longan seeds among various cultivars were made, and the relations between these structural and property characteristics are discussed. The isolated starch, accounting for 44.9–49.5% (w
) in longan seeds, had an oval or an irregular polygonal shape with a smooth surface. Their chain-length distributions (CLDs) varied with longan cultivar; Chuliang showed a larger proportion of longer amylopectin chains with a degree of polymerization (DP) 30~100. This is attributed to the slightly higher relative crystallinity of Chuliang longan seed starch. Apparent differences were also detected in amylose structure. Caopu showed a higher amylose content than Chuliang and Shixia, resulting in its lower gelatinization temperatures and enthalpy change. All longan seed starch had a typical A-type crystal structure with relative crystallinity ranging 28.6–28.9%. For raw starch, Caopu showed the lowest digestion rate, followed by Chuliang; Shixia showed the highest. This is because Caopu had the highest amylose content. Chuliang had a more intact structure than Shixia, as suggested by its higher crystallinity, although they had similar amylose content. After being fully gelatinized, all starch showed a similar digestion process, indicating that the digestibility of gelatinized starch does not differ with starch source or structure.
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