Freeze-drying changes the structure and digestibility of B-polymorphic starches

Bin Zhang, Kai Wang, Jovin Hasjim, Enpeng Li, Bernadine M. Flanagan, Michael J. Gidley, Sushil Dhital

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Starch granules both isolated from plants and used in foods or other products have typically been dried. Common food laboratory and industry practices include oven (heat), freeze, and ethanol (solvent-exchange) drying. Starch granules isolated from maize (A-type polymorph) and potato (B-type polymorph) were used to understand the effects of different dehydration methods on starch structure and in vitro digestion kinetics. Oven and ethanol drying do not significantly affect the digestion properties of starches compared with their counterparts that have never been dried. However, freeze-drying results in a significant increase in the digestion rate of potato starch but not maize starch. The structural and conformational changes of starch granules after drying were investigated at various length scales using scanning electron microscopy, confocal laser scanning microscopy, X-ray diffraction, FTIR spectroscopy, and NMR spectroscopy. Freeze-drying not only disrupts the surface morphology of potato starch granules (B-type polymorph), but also degrades both short- and long-range molecular order of the amylopectin, each of which can cause an increase in the digestion rate. In contrast to A-polymorphic starches, B-polymorphic starches are more disrupted by freeze-drying, with reductions of both short- and long-range molecular order. We propose that the low temperatures involved in freeze-drying compared with oven drying result in greater chain rigidity and lead to structural disorganization during water removal at both nanometer and micrometer length scales in B-type polymorphic starch granules, because of the different distribution of water within crystallites and the lack of pores and channels compared with A-type polymorphic starch granules.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1482-1491
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 19 Feb 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • crystalline structure
  • drying
  • granule morphology
  • in vitro digestion
  • starch granules

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