Red-fleshed apple (Malus sieversii f. neidzwetzkyana
(Dieck) Langenf) has attracted more and more attention due to its enriched anthocyanins and high antioxidant activity. In this study we extracted total anthocyanins and phenols from two types of red-fleshed apples—Xinjing No.4 (XJ4) and Red Laiyang (RL)—to study the stability and antioxidant activity of anthocyanins after encapsulation onto Corn Starch Nanoparticles (CSNPs). The results indicated the anthocyanins and total phenol levels of XJ4 were 2.96 and 2.25 times higher than those of RL respectively. The anthocyanin concentration and loading time had a significant effect on CSNPs encapsulation, and XJ4 anthocyanins always showed significantly higher loading capacity than RL. After encapsulation, the morphology of RL-CSNPs and XJ4-CSNPs was still spherical with a smooth surface as CSNPs, but the particle size increased compared to CSNPs especially for RL-CSNPs. Different stress treatments including UV light, pH, temperature, and salinity suggested that XJ4-CSNPs exhibited consistently higher stability than RL-CSNPs. A significantly enhanced free radical scavenging rate under stress conditions was observed, and XJ4-CSNPs had stronger antioxidant activity than RL-CSNPs. Furthermore, XJ4-CSNPs exhibited a slower released rate than RL-CSNPs in simulated gastric (pH 2.0) and intestinal (pH 7.0) environments. Our research suggests that nanocrystallization of anthocyanins is an effective method to keep the anthocyanin ingredients intact and active while maintaining a slow release rate. Compared to RL, encapsulation of XJ4 anthocyanins has more advantages, which might be caused by the significant differences in the metabolites of XJ4. These findings give an insight into understanding the role of nanocrystallization using CSNPs in enhancing the antioxidant ability of anthocyanins from different types of red-fleshed apples, and provide theoretical foundations for red-fleshed apple anthocyanin application.
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