The bran accounts for approximately 25% of the wheat kernel but is currently only a by-product, used as animal feed. However, due to its high arabinoxylan content it could be a valuable raw material for food production. Arabinoxylans cannot be digested in the human intestine but are intensely studied for their health-beneficial properties. These include glycemic control by formation of a highly viscous gel in the intestine, and hence delaying starch digestion, alongside an increase in short chain fatty acids. To apply sufficient amounts of arabinoxylan for health-beneficial effects, extraction and concentration is required. Alkaline/oxidative conditions are commonly used, but for potential food applications more cost-efficient methods, without hazardous chemicals, are required. Therefore, this study aimed to optimize the conditions for hydrothermal extraction (extraction time and temperature) at laboratory-scale and to compare the results to an established alkaline/oxidative method. The resulting extracts were characterized for yield, purity, arabinoxylan molecular mass, arabinose/xylose ratio, and viscosity to evaluate the quality of the method. For the hydrothermal extraction, an extraction time of 1 h at 160 °C and 6.5 bar gave the best results. However, even these optimized conditions resulted in lower extract purity and severely degraded arabinoxylans. Although further optimization of the hydrothermal process is required, the present work builds an important foundation for the development of an industrial hydrothermal extraction method.
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