The main challenge to probiotics, during their passage through the gastrointestinal tract, are the acidic gastric secretions of the stomach, and the bile salts released into the duodenum. The survival of the strains, in this phase, is strongly influenced by the food used for their delivery.This work is part of a project studying the development of novel food processes, based on the use of chestnuts from cultivar "Castagna di Montella". In detail, the effect of indigestible chestnut fiber and of chestnut extract on the viability of selected lactic acid bacteria strains was evaluated. Among 28 cultures, twelve strains were selected, on the basis of tolerance to low pH values and bile salts, and submitted to exposition to simulated gastric or bile juice in presence of chestnut extract with or without immobilization in chestnut fiber. The presence of chestnut extract proved to play a significant role on the gastric tolerance improvement of lactobacilli. The recorded protective effect could not be simply related to the starch or reducing sugars content. RP-HPLC demonstrated that in the chestnut flour, there are one or more hydrophobic peptides or oligopeptides, which specifically offer a marked resistance to simulated gastric juice, albeit present at low concentration. These beneficial effects proved to be dependent by the cultivar used to produce the flour.
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